Crucial Irvine Wildlife Corridor Begins to Take Shape Within Orange County Great Park Fulfilling a Long-Held Dream

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Main News Photo

A crucial wildlife corridor connecting the Cleveland National Forest with Orange County’s coastal habitat begins taking shape as Heritage Fields El Toro, LLC (a partnership of FivePoint Holdings, LLC) and Laguna Greenbelt, Inc. unveiled a nearly 2.5-mile ribbon of native vegetation that soon will host, among others, grey fox, bobcat, coyote, Gnatcatchers and other native species.

The Irvine Wildlife Corridor is being developed on city land in the Orange County Great Park and is important to preserve the long-term biodiversity of native species and protect the heritage of coastal California. The March 13 unveiling follows decades of dedicated work by environmental groups to complete this “missing link” between more than 20,000 acres of coastal chaparral and the Santa Ana Mountains – creating a nearly six-mile long corridor in its entirety.

In addition to FivePoint (a member of the Greater Irvine Chamber Leaders Circle) and the Laguna Greenbelt, the Wildlife Corridor plan was developed in consultation with the Natural Resources Defense Council, Endangered Habitats League, and Friends of Rivers, Harbors and Parks, with the benefit of peer review by wildlife corridor experts. 

“Finally, we can share with other people what we’ve been talking about all these years,” said Elisabeth Brown, president of Laguna Greenbelt, who has championed development of the corridor since the late 1980s and collaborated with FivePoint over the past five years to see it realized. “Bobcats and coyotes, foxes and raccoons – they’ll all use it. Because the corridor is so big, some of them will live in there. Others will be passing through. It will be a microcosm of all the wild areas that we’re connecting.”

Nearly a quarter-mile across at its widest point, the approximately 175-acre corridor covers land previously used for agriculture and a portion of the former Marine Corps Air Station El Toro golf course.

“Realizing the long-held dream for the Irvine Wildlife Corridor reflects FivePoint’s duty of stewardship for California’s natural resources and our expansive definition of community,” said FivePoint Chairman and CEO Emile Haddad. “We are a company that is committed to sustainable land use – whether through ecologically sensitive development, outright preservation or, in this case, the creation of a vital pathway for wildlife and plant species to flourish.”

“What’s exciting and unique about this project is that FivePoint is designing and building a true, natural corridor to promote the migration of wildlife increasingly isolated by urban development,” said Tony Bomkamp, the lead biologist overseeing the construction of the corridor. “Habitat loss and fragmentation are the two main contributors to continuing declines in biodiversity. When complete, this landscape will create an unfettered path between two of the largest wild spaces in Orange County – giving native species a wider range in which to feed, hunt and mate.”

Wildlife will enter the corridor from the Santa Ana Mountains and travel along the eastern edge of the development, to a wide culvert beneath the I-5 and 1-405 freeways. The corridor then winds its way into the Laguna Conservancy land and coastal foothills. Access to the corridor will be restricted to only wildlife by protective fencing and berms to minimize the intrusion of light and noise that might frighten wildlife. The project also forms a new channel on what was once flat ground to support seasonal water flows that nurture native habitat.

Following the ceremony at 10 a.m., Haddad will join Brown and Jonathan Parfrey, executive director of Climate Resolve; Joel Levin, executive director of Plug in America; and environmental leader Terry Watt for a roundtable discussion about the collaboration necessary to create vital linkages like the Irvine Wildlife Corridor. At each of its three master-planned communities in California, FivePoint has been working with stakeholders, leaders and officials to preserve and enhance the natural environment, including the preservation of 10,000 acres of open space and construction of homes that will be net zero energy at Newhall Ranch in Los Angeles County and construction of one of San Francisco’s most energy-efficient neighborhoods at The San Francisco Shipyard/Candlestick Point.

Cover image: Emile Haddad - Chairman & CEO of FivePoint, Elisabeth Brown, PhD, president of the Laguna Greenbelt, and Irvine Mayor Don Wagner. 

FivePoint, (NYSE: FPH), headquartered in Aliso Viejo, California, designs and develops mixed-use, master-planned communities in coastal California. FivePoint is developing vibrant and sustainable communities in Orange County, Los Angeles County, and San Francisco County that will offer homes, commercial, retail, educational, and recreational elements as well as civic areas, parks, and open spaces. FivePoint’s three communities are: Great Park Neighborhoods in Irvine, Newhall Ranch near Valencia in Los Angeles County, and The San Francisco Shipyard/Candlestick Point in the City of San Francisco. The communities are planned to include approximately 40,000 residential homes and approximately 21 million square feet of commercial space.

Category: Partner News