Once upon a time a group of people fought one huge land developer and won. Back in 1988, artists, politicians, and environmentalists—concerned that the big developer kept carving out more and more of the beautiful canyon walls surrounding Laguna Beach in order to build more and more homes—organized a protest to save a pristine area along the Orange County coastline they believed to be a treasure trove of wilderness trails and scenic vistas.
Some 11,000 people turned out to build “The Tell,” a 636-foot wall mural that captured the ridgelines of what is now the Dilley Preserve.
Sadly, much of the mural succumbed to a 1993 wildfire. But back in 1989, these activists invoked their talents and founded the Laguna Canyon Conservancy to thwart the developer’s plans to rip through the canyon land. Somehow, they managed to stop the bulldozers in their tracks and went on to lead the fight to pass a $20 million bond measure that acquired the property so that it would stay open park land. Today, Laguna Coast Wilderness Park and its nature center is a place where people can leave behind work schedules and hike, bike, or horseback ride through 40 miles of canyon trails. They might catch a glimpse of red-tailed hawk or a bobcat or spot a mule deer.
To all those dedicated activists back then I say, “thank you.” Without them, the area would be just another subdivision full of houses that all look alike. Because of their efforts, thousands visit yearly and still trek through the trails in its natural state. Who says a small group of dedicated people won’t make a difference?