12.10.21 OP-ED: A Once-in-a-Generation Opportunity to Preserve Banning Ranch

Excerpted from the Voice of OC

By Teri Welsh

The last 20 years of determination squarely landed this once-in-a-generation opportunity to permanently protect a coastal park and preserve for future generations. To be successful, conservation transactions, like this one, typically need three main ingredients: willing sellers, funding, and political/public will.  

The Banning Ranch Conservancy is grateful Newport Banning Ranch LLC decided to sell 384 acres of its land for conservation. Oil operations will be consolidated on the remaining 17 acres. We welcomed our transaction partner, The Trust for Public Land (TPL), to handle the conservation contracts and shepherd this acquisition to completion.  

TPL actively pursued funding from the state and federal government to acquire this land. The purchase price of $97 million is a heavy lift, lessened through a phenomenal donation of $50 million from Frank and Joann Randall. Several grants have been awarded. Most recently an $11 million Section 6 grant was awarded from the US Fish and Wildlife Service and, through the persistent work of Assemblymember Cottie Petrie-Norris to include an additional $8 million in the state budget. This means we are now within $14 million of the goal. Additional grants remain to be awarded, and the Conservancy aspires to be meaningful partners and assist with future long-term stewardship needs.  

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Banning Ranch includes a rich history. There is over 3,000 years of evidence of habitation by Native American people. The property was owned in the 1800s by the family of Phineas Banning, the “The Father of the Port of Los Angeles.” Banning Ranch is the southernmost oil field in California and has been in production for over 80 years. It also served the country in the 1940s war effort. It can now serve us again in our efforts to adapt and mitigate climate change impacts.