September 7, 2011
The Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) was recently awarded $732,000 from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to help develop a conservation plan as part of the Measure M2 environmental program.
The money will supplement funding already set aside for the development of OCTA’s M2 Environmental Freeway Mitigation Program – a comprehensive plan to preserve and restore open space throughout the county.
Working with the environmental community, OCTA is purchasing open space to advance the environmental permitting process for the 13 freeway improvement projects as part of the M2 half-cent sales tax for transportation improvements, which voters approved in 2006.
The conservation plan also will help protect more than 20 plant and animal species including the coastal California gnatcatcher, Santa Ana sucker, pallid bat, and Coulter’s matilija poppy.
“The environmental program is an innovative approach to help conserve Orange County’s natural habitat while planning for current and future transportation needs,” said OCTA Chair Patricia Bates, also the Fifth District Supervisor. “Being awarded this grant enables OCTA to invest additional money in the program above and beyond M2 commitments.”
Nearly $53 million in funding through the Habitat Conservation Planning and Assistance grant was awarded to 17 states through a competitive grant process to support environmental planning efforts.
The M2 Environmental Mitigation Program will provide nearly $300 million over the next 30 years to preserve and restore land throughout Orange County.