Public, Private Partners Secure Permanent Protection of Banning Ranch
December 19, 2022
California Natural Resource Agency, Mountains Recreation and Conservation
Authority, Trust for Public Land, and Banning Ranch Conservancy Announce the
Permanent Protection of Banning Ranch
Los Angeles, CA – Today, the Trust for Public Land (TPL) in partnership with the California Natural
Resources Agency (CNRA), Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority (MRCA) and Banning
Ranch Conservancy (BRC) announced the completed acquisition of Banning Ranch.
Equivalent in size to 4.5 Disneylands and overlooking the Pacific Ocean, the 387-acre property
between the cities of Costa Mesa, Newport Beach and Huntington Beach has long been eyed for
development. The tribal and local community’s decades long advocacy and TPL’s five-year, $100
million conservation campaign helped bring to a close a chapter of private ownership and begin a
new chapter of community driven public and tribal access and future restoration on what is
considered the last large, unprotected coastal property in Southern California.
“Millions of Californians will soon be able to enjoy this remarkable new open space overlooking the
Pacific Ocean,” said California Natural Resources Secretary Wade Crowfoot. “This includes
residents from nearby communities with precious few parks and open spaces. It’s a great example
of what we’re capable of doing in California through creative partnerships.”
TPL and BRC worked to secure public and private funds – including a $50 million
lead donation from philanthropists and longtime Orange County residents Frank and Joan Randall
– to purchase the property and support the conservation effort. The Randall family’s generous
donation was complemented by broad support from State agencies including the Wildlife
Conservation Board ($15.5 million), CNRA ($14 million), State Coastal Conservancy ($11.5 million),
and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife ($8 million).
“Completing this conservation project was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and would not have
been possible without the incredible generosity of Frank and Joan Randall, combined with the
leadership and support of the Governor, local and state elected officials, tribal and community
advocates, and our state funding partners. We can now officially say this land will become
California’s next public coastal park,” said Guillermo Rodriguez, TPL’s California State Director and
Vice President-Pacific Region.
Thanks to leadership and advocacy through consultation from local California Native American
tribes and important tribal community advocates, this property will ensure future protection of
cultural resources and accessibility to local tribal communities. This property is within the
ancestral homelands of local California Native American tribes including the Acjachemen and
Tongva peoples and continues to have important significance since time immemorial. The site and
the nearby Fairview Park and surrounding bluff areas along the Santa Ana River are believed to
have been part of a native village site known as Geŋa.
“The Juaneno Band of Mission Indians is looking forward to collaborating with MRCA during all
phases of the project. We are also excited to see what the future holds and in regaining an area for
us to hold ceremony. Geŋa hold a special place in our hearts. We are thrilled to be able to share
with the public the importance of this village, not only to the Acjachemen but to our plant and
animal relatives as Cho’onom noneskinum (to all my relations),” Chairwoman Heidi Lucero, CEO
Juaneño Band of Mission Indians, Acjachemen Nation.
Project partners envision turning the property into a vast public park and preserve that would
provide coastal access with trails, low-cost camping and picnic sites. It is an anchor property within
a nearly 1,000-acre network of protected natural lands linked by bike and walking trails and is
easily accessed by public transportation.
The project also protects critical biological diversity. There are approximately 100 acres of
marshes, mudflats, and riparian scrub, and 67 acres of coastal sage scrub, with critical habitat for
as many as five endangered species. Protecting this property from development and repurposing it
from oil extraction to public purposes aligns with California’s ambitious climate goals and the
Governor’s “30 x 30 Initiative” that calls for the protection of 30% of the state’s land and coastal
waters by 2030. Restoring the property can help mitigate impacts from sea level rise, sequester
carbon in area wetlands, reduce the urban heat island through restoration efforts and provide
habitat for native species while also allowing appropriate public access, all of which are key
priorities in the Initiative.
As the property’s public land steward, MRCA will hold title while the previous oil operator
undertakes at its own expense a two-to-three year process of remediation, including removal of oil
infrastructure from the property, including incorporating brownfield bioremediation. During this
time, no public access will be allowed, but a stewardship/management planning effort will be
underway. Robust tribal consultation and community engagement will be incorporated into the
development of a property management plan to inform tribal access and engagement, habitat
restoration and public access plans. MRCA will also work with California Native American tribes
and tribal community members who hold the property as their ancestral homeland to develop the
tribal access and engagement plan that honors, elevates and protects tribal history, cultural
resources, and tribal access.
Part of the Tribal Access and Engagement Plan involves a tribal selection of a formal name to
reflect the cultural significance and ancestral homeland of the local California Native American
tribes, as well as “The Frank and Joan Randall Park & Preserve”.
“Thank you to landowners Newport Banning Ranch and Aera Energy for their hard work. We would
not be where we are today without their commitment and patience. And, having the support of and
leadership from Assemblymember Cottie Petrie-Norris was very impactful to this conservation
success,” said Conservancy President Terry M. Welsh, MD. “Now that the land is protected, BRC
transitions to a new role of restoration and stewardship for the Preserve and nearby coastal lands
and waters. We can’t wait to get started!”
“With sweeping coastal views and fantastic recreational and habitat restoration opportunities, The
Frank and Joan Randall Preserve will serve 8.4 million people who live within an hour’s drive and
marks a monumental step forward in helping to close the park equity gap in Southern
California,” said Guillermo Rodriguez, TPL California State Director. “Now we bring to a close a
chapter of private ownership and begin an exciting new chapter recognizing and elevating the
ancestral homelands of local Native American tribes combined with community driven public access
TPL, as part of the transaction, is also awarding MRCA a $2 million grant to seed the future
stewardship of the property.