Speaking as the head of Southern California's only regional conservation organization, The Times' editorial "Preserve Barham Ranch" (Jan. 2) was right on target. At the confluence of three regional parks, and containing outstanding wetlands and coastal sage, Barham Ranch is an essential component of Orange County's open-space system. The public agencies that own Barham Ranch should accept the fair-market-value-system purchase price offered by the county. Unless all branches of government pull together, this opportunity will be lost, and the citizens and wildlife of Orange County will forever be the poorer.
Endangered Habitats League
Barham Ranch is typical of how Southern California used to look: beautiful and inhabited by a diversity of plants, birds, reptiles, mammals, insects and other wildlife.
Unfortunately, Orange County's wild places are fast disappearing, being bulldozed for more houses and shops and roads. But the spirit of man needs more, thirsting for quiet places, places to listen and breathe and smell and touch nature.
At the San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary, a 300-acre wetland in Irvine, thousands of people enjoy nature and its peaceful surrounding. This wetland, until recently only open to a handful of duck hunters, could have become another housing tract. Instead, the Irvine Ranch Water District recognized the greater benefit of a wildlife sanctuary.
I hope the Serrano Water District and Orange Unified School District have this type of vision and thoughtfulness for their property at Barham Ranch.