FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Nov. 21, 2013
FOR MORE INFORMATION: Joel Zlotnik (714) 560-5713/Eric Carpenter (714) 560-5697
OCTA Environmental Program Honored For Sustainability
Orange County Business Council recognizes Measure M mitigation that has resulted in more than 950 acres to be restored or preserved
ORANGE – The Orange County Transportation Authority was honored last night with an award for preserving the county’s natural resources during the 3rd annual Orange County Business Council Turning Red Tape Into Red Carpet Awards.
The awards program recognizes Orange County public agencies that are cutting through bureaucratic red tape and opening the door for businesses to grow and succeed. Awards were given in a variety of categories including Business Retention and Expansion, Responding to Globalization, and Real Estate Redevelopment and Reuse.
OCTA won the award for Sustainable and Green Development – an award that recognizes programs that simultaneously target and create relationships between economic development and sustainability.
OCTA was recognized for the agency’s innovative Freeway Environmental Mitigation Program that preserves Orange County’s natural resources while helping to accelerate 13 freeway improvement projects. The Measure M program also allows for the creation of much-needed jobs for those building lasting transportation improvements that benefit millions of travelers.
“We at OCTA are very proud of this award because it shows that we’ve struck a balance between improving Orange County’s freeways to keep drivers moving and protecting valuable natural resources along the way,” said OCTA Director Pat Bates, also the Fifth District Supervisor and the chair of OCTA’s Environmental Oversight Committee.
OCTA’s mitigation program allocates funds from Measure M, the county’s half-cent sales tax for transportation, to acquire land and fund habitat restoration projects as a way to offset the impacts of 13 freeway improvement projects.
To date, more than 950 acres have been purchased from willing sellers in Trabuco Canyon and Brea to be preserved as open space. The properties were purchased because they have the highest environmental value in terms of habitat and wildlife. The environmental benefits are greater because the land is larger and more biologically important than if the typical piecemeal approach were used for each freeway project separately.
“OCTA’s environmental program serves as a model for other agencies, establishing an open public process for collaboration between the public, environmental organizations, business leaders and an infrastructure provider,” said Darrell Johnson, OCTA’s CEO.
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