Essential Moments in the Formation of the Laguna Wilderness*

1968  James Dilley forms the Laguna Greenbelt organization, which two years later becomes a non-profit corporation, the Laguna Greenbelt, Inc.

1970  Christmas rock concert draws twenty thousand people to Sycamore Hills.

1971  Dilley  persuades the Orange County Board of Supervisors to adopt the concept of the Laguna Greenbelt, which in 1973 is given priority in the Open Space Element of the Orange County General Plan.

1975  The California Coastal Commission recognizes the greenbelt concept.

1976  A 20-acre parcel is acquired on the South Laguna ridgeline, just south of Three Arch Bay and now known as Emerald Ridge.

1976  A 20-acre parcel is acquired atop Niguel Peak, on the South Laguna ridgeline and on the south wall of Aliso Canyon.

1976  The Friends of the Irvine Coast (later “of the Newport Coast”) forms to negotiate and monitor open space as trade-off for development in Newport Beach and Corona del Mar.

1978  Sycamore Hills is purchased by the City of Laguna Beach from Great Lakes Carbon Corporation, using  County funds in exchange for the right-of-way for the  San Joaquín Hills Transportation Corridor.

1979  Negotiations with the Aliso Viejo Company result in dedications of Aliso, Wood, and Mathis Canyons (now Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park)

1979  Orange County purchases 80 acres from Hobert McCaslin in the Top of the World area.

1979  Orange County purchases the Badlands from Daryl Spense and receives other negotiated dedications from AVCO, Laguna Sur, Monarch Summit, and Shappel Industries.

1980  Laguna Greenbelt efforts to establish the Orange County National Park through the U.S. Congress fail.

1979  The state of California uses $32 million to purchase 2,888 acres of beach and back-country land, including Moro Canyon,  between Laguna Beach and Newport Beach from the Irvine Company.

1984  Crystal Cove State Park is formally dedicated.

1986  Moulton Meadows between Top of the World and Arch Beach Heights is dedicated by the City of Laguna Beach.

1986  Laguna Canyon Conservancy is established.

1988  The Irvine Open Space Initiative is approved, with open space dedication in Irvine portions of the Laguna Wilderness triggered by development approvals in related planning areas.

1989  The Tell, a 636-foot-long photographic mural in Sycamore Hills, is dedicated, and on November 11 eight thousand protesters walk to the Tell to oppose the proposed Laguna Laurel development.

1989–1990  A lawsuit by Laguna Greenbelt against the Irvine Company and Orange County leads to negotiations for the purchase of Laguna Laurel by the City of Laguna Beach for $78 million.

1990  Nearly eighty percent of Laguna Beach voters favor a $20 million bond issue for purchase of Laguna Canyon lands.

1990  Orange County negotiates with the Irvine Company for 3,600 acres above Crystal Cove State Park, including Los Trancos and Buck Gully.

1991  The Laguna Canyon Foundation is founded.

1991  Irvine Coast dedications preserve land on the north side of Laguna Canyon Road.

1993  With the dedication of the Laguna Coast Wilderness Park, a Laguna Greenbelt volunteer docent training program is established to guide the public into the wilderness areas.

1993  The San Joaquín Hills Toll Road is constructed despite opposition and legal action by Laguna Greenbelt and the Laguna Canyon Conservancy.

1998  Laguna Greenbelt petitions for an  open space initiative within Laguna Beach to secure existing publicly owned open space lands, and the City Council adopts the ordinance.

1999  Two thousand acres of the Irvine Company Open Space Reserve is transferred to the Laguna Coast Wilderness Park.

2000   California Proposition 12 makes $12.5 million available for the purchase of Laguna Wilderness open space.

2001  The final Laguna Laurel parcel is dedicated by the Irvine Company for public open space.

2002 Twenty-one hundred acres, including the Bommer cattle camp, are dedicated as open space.

2004   The Ridge Park public access on Bommer Ridge is dedicated.

2006   The historic Crystal Cove Cottages are opened to visitors.

2007    The Nix Nature Center opens in Little Sycamore Canyon.

2010    The El Moro Campground is opened.

2011   The Crystal Cove State Marine Conservation Area and the Laguna Beach State Marine Reserve are established.

2002-2013  Proposition 12 funds are used for additional purchases of 310 acres of privately owned land in Laguna Canyon and elsewhere, including in 2012 the acquisition of 56 acres in Rim Rock Canyon, an effort led by the Laguna Canyon Foundation in a partnership with the California Coastal Conservancy, the City of Laguna Beach, Orange County Parks, and the Conservation Fund.

2013-2014  Approval of a wildlief corridor to connect the coastal wildlands of the Laguna Greenbelt with the larger areas of the Santa Ana Mountains, including the Limestone WhitingWilderness Park and the Cleveland National Forest.

* From Ronald H. Chilcote, The Laguna Wilderness, Laguna Beach:
Laguna Wilderness Press, 2014