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2022-2024 News Releases

Grant Awarded to Convert Former Landfill into Los Angeles County’s First New Regional Park in Three Decades
  • June 24, 2024
Hikers enjoy the Puente Hills Regional Park property in Los Angeles County.

Wildlife Conservation Board Awards Nearly $120 Million in Grants to 43 Habitat Conservation and Restoration Projects

The Wildlife Conservation Board (WCB) approved 43 habitat conservation and restoration projects spanning 23 counties and protecting nearly 28,000 acres at its May 23 quarterly meeting. The Saturday, June 22 announcement of a state budget agreement allows WCB to release funds to these inspirational projects, including a $12.5 million grant to the County of Los Angeles Department of Parks and Recreation to help convert a 142-acre site, formerly a portion of the Puente Hills Landfill – which at one point during its nearly 60 years of operations was considered the second-largest landfill in the country – into Puente Hills Regional Park, Los Angeles County’s first new regional park in 30 years.

Prior to the landfill’s operation, the project site once supported a thriving ecological system of oak-woodland, coastal sage scrub and chaparral habitats. Restoration of the site will include the establishment of native plant communities which will address the critical issues of habitat degradation, loss of biodiversity, disrupted habitat connectivity, and the unmet needs for accessible open space. The park will serve the residents of Los Angeles County as well as Orange County and the Inland Empire.

“The Puente Hills Regional Park is the culmination of a decades-long vision to transform the former landfill and its 150 million tons of trash into a public space, a place for nature and wildlife, a place for healing, restoration, and regeneration,” said Norma E. Garcia-Gonzalez, director of Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation. “The park will be the outcome of the most robust community engagement process we’ve ever done. The resulting native landscapes and spectacular views will serve millions in the greater Los Angeles region for generations to come.”

The grants will support Gov. Gavin Newsom’s goal of conserving 30 percent of California’s lands and coastal waters by 2030, an initiative known as 30x30. The initiative seeks to protect biodiversity, expand access to nature for all Californians and address climate change.

Other funded projects include:

  • A $1 million grant to Kounkuey Design Initiative, Inc. to plan two open space areas that connect the Torres Martinez Desert Cahuilla Indian tribe and local community to desert habitats and celebrate their cultural heritage. The property provides an important opportunity to increase outdoor access, build traditional ecological knowledge, offer indigenous and environmental education, and restore habitat through native planting design.

“Desert Lake Shore is a commemorative, interactive landscape that weaves together several forms of indigenous artifacts found on a 38-acre site owned by Friends of the Desert Mountains,” said Oscar Ortiz, director of education for Friends of the Desert Mountains. “These artifacts include petroglyphs, fish traps, and ceramic remains. In a collaborative project with the Torres Martinez Desert Cahuilla Indians, this project would help to bring the Torres Martinez tribe’s history into full view and help share present histories of its people and culture.”

“The unincorporated region of the Eastern Coachella Valley—despite its varied and rich ecological context from natural palm oases to beautiful deserts to the shoreline of Salton Sea—has few spaces for residents to be outside, recreate, and interact with nature,” said Lauren Elechi, senior design principal for Kounkuey Design Initiative, Inc. “The two projects will not only begin a much-needed process to plan and build ecologically sensitive public spaces through a participatory co-design process with community members but will crucially center partnership with the Torres Martinez Desert Cahuilla Indian tribe to honor their past traditions, build strong relationships in the present, and preserve space for cultural practice for future generations.”

  • A $5.55 million grant to The Trust for Public Land and Marin County Open Space District to conserve 110 acres in the town of Tiburon in Marin County. The conservation of the Tiburon Ridge/Martha Co. property will create 256 acres of contiguous, protected open space, and protect critical biodiversity. The property supports rare and special status species, including red-legged frog, the Tiburon jewel flower, and the Marin dwarf flax, a federally threatened plant. The project also provides public access via four main trails, offering panoramic views of San Francisco Bay.

"Trust for Public Land is honored to join forces with the California Wildlife Conservation Board as they announce their generous and critical support for the Tiburon Ridge project,” said Guillermo Rodriguez, California state director and vice president for the Pacific region of the Trust for Public Land. “With time running out to acquire this property for the public, WCB’s timely support marks a pivotal moment in the 30-year effort to preserve this cherished landscape. This project isn’t just about preserving breathtaking views; its about safeguarding vital habitats and ensuring access to green spaces for generations to come.”

  • A $1.6 million grant to the University of California, Davis for a cooperative project with the Mojave National Preserve to study the ability of head-started desert tortoises to survive in the wild.        

“This project provides crucial support to ensure that desert tortoises have a place in California’s future,” said Dr. Brian Todd, professor of conservation biology at UC Davis.

“Research to date by Dr. Todd, his colleagues, and their students has produced multiple publications that lay important groundwork for recovery of the Mojave Desert Tortoise which the proposed project is poised to capitalize on,” said Roy C. Averill-Murray, desert tortoise recovery coordinator (retired) for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

“The program has produced nearly 700 juvenile desert tortoises. Importantly, the head-starting process has been optimized by including an initial one-year period of indoor rearing during which juveniles experience more rapid growth, effectively reducing the time required in captivity to produce a juvenile of releasable size from 5 to 7 years to 1 to 2 years.”

  • A $2.75 million grant to The Nature Conservancy to protect 389 acres of land and enhance streamflow in French Creek, part of the Klamath River watershed for the protection of species including coho and Chinook salmon.

“The property lies along the portion of French Creek that hosts amongst the highest density of coho redds in the entire Scott River watershed,” said Sandi Matsumoto, water program director for The Nature Conservancy California. “By improving late summer streamflow and creating the opportunity to restore habitat, we hope to contribute to coho recovery in the Klamath River – an exciting prospect as dams are being removed.”

For more information about the WCB, please visit


Categories: Environment, Grants, Habitat Restoration

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