A meeting about the largest private wilderness left in South Orange County and how to preserve it is being presented Tuesday by the Sierra Club.
The program, "Our Backyard Wilderness," will feature slides and a discussion of the area between San Clemente and Ronald W. Caspers Wilderness Park that includes 131,000 acres of pristine oak-filled canyons, rolling hills and threatened plants and animals, according to organizers.
The area includes the nation's largest population of the coastal California gnatcatcher, an endangered songbird.
The Rancho Mission Viejo company owns nearly 30,000 acres of the region being studied, another 36,000 acres is in the Cleveland National Forest and much of the rest is either privately owned or within existing parks.
Among the five preservation plans that have been considered are those that call for anywhere from 41,000 to 48,000 acres of the land being set aside, with other swaths then being open for development.
Rancho Mission Viejo officials, government regulators, scientists and environmentalists have spent four years haggling over plans for the region, and now hope to have a rough draft ready by July, environmental review in the fall and a plan crafted for final approval next year.
At Tuesday's meeting Sierra Club leaders said they will discuss their group's push--along with the Audubon Society, the Endangered Habitats League and other organizations--to keep much of the area pristine.
The 7 p.m. public meeting will be at the Universalist Unitarian Church of South Orange County, 25801 Obrero Drive, Mission Viejo.
Information: (949) 661-9505 or (949) 631-3140.