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Conservation Planning in Orange County, California: Linking Ecosystem Protection to Open Space Preservation

January 2006

Citation: ELR 10073

Author: Adrianna Kripke

Editor's Summary: In an era of rapid population growth and urban expansion, efforts to protect ecosystems and the wildlife they support often generate controversy. According to Adrianna Kripke, the experience of California's Orange County with protecting the coastal sage scrub ecosystem provides a valuable lesson in conservation planning: property owners are more willing to dedicate land and funding to ecosystem protection when the land will also serve as publicly accessible open space. As long as communities provide for ecological monitoring and adaptive management of the land, integrating ecosystem protection and open space preservation increases landowner participation in conservation planning and produces a net environmental gain. Landowners support open space preservation because open space offers aesthetic and recreational resources to neighboring communities. Dedicating land as open space also reduces the supply of residential property, thereby raising the value of existing housing developments. Given these benefits, she argues, landowners should contribute significantly to ecological monitoring and adaptive management as part of their obligations to mitigate development under the federal ESA and parallel state law.

Adrianna Kripke received her J.D. from University of California, Berkeley School of Law (Boalt Hall) in 2005, and her B.A. in biology from Harvard University in 2000. She would like to thank Prof. Daniel Farber and Rachel Anderson for their assistance with this Article.

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