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OCH News

4th Quarter 2023
(October - December)

Quarterly News

Ecotourism and the Environment

By Ellis Waterman

Ecotourism is defined as a "form of tourism that attempts to take responsibility for its current and future economic, social, and environmental impacts, by looking at the needs of visitors, the industry, the environment, and host communities," (Statista). It is a large global industry that was worth about $185.87 billion in 2021 and is expected to grow approximately 15.2% from 2022 to 2030. The reason for this jump is due to increased popularity in outdoor recreational activities, immersive travel, as well as an increase in negative environmental impacts from traditional forms of tourism (Grand View Research). Some prominent examples of ecotourism include whale watching, hiking, kayaking, volunteering with local wildlife conservatories, participating in cleanup projects, and more.

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Depicted is a group of travelers on a guided hike. Photo from iExplore.

There are plenty of economic benefits of ecotourism for the areas in which sustainable travelers visit. Ecotourism helps communities create jobs and promote local culture and products. These two aspects play a big role in deciding which way the economy will go, as having a sizable paycheck allows residents to inject their own money back into their economy and also helps small, local businesses make more profits to again be put back in the same economy. Additionally, it helps visitors learn the value of respecting wildlife and culture by immersing them in it, instead of just treating the area like an overcrowded theme park. Furthermore, ecotourism is a more profitable use of land in the long run than industries who profit off non-renewable resources such as the timber, oil, and coal industries. Continue reading here...

Grasslands in California

By Linsey Schroll

California is home to a variety of habitats. One that is not commonly seen around Orange County is grassland. California’s amazing grasslands were once thought to be more forblands as originally they were filled with perennial bunch grasses and broadleaf herbs called forbes (Rundel 2005). The composition of California’s grasslands has completely changed since the 17th century after many non-native plants were introduced by European settlers. California grasslands are now typically covered by high non-native annual cover although you are still able to see native species at low levels.


Photo Credit: Mx. Granger

California’s native grasslands species provide a wide variety of ecosystem services. For example, native bunch grasses have large expansive root systems that have the ability to store large amounts of carbon. These perennial grasses are able to renew 50% of their root masses each year, so experts say that they are better carbon sinks than trees (UC Davis 2018). Carbon sinks help regulate earth's climate by removing carbon from the atmosphere and storing it in large root systems. In addition, their large root systems, which can reach around 20 feet long, are able to access moisture deep underground and act as a great anchor to prevent erosion (UC Davis 2018).Continue reading here.

Species Spotlight

Make Way For The Monarch: Migration and Preparation

By Rebecca Cummings

Of all the California butterflies, the most well known is the Western Monarch butterfly. This butterfly, Danaus plexippus, is an orange butterfly with black vein outlining and white dots of varying sizes on the edges of the wings. With a wingspan of around four inches, the Monarch Butterfly is one of the larger species in Southern California. They have two migratory seasons, one in the fall and one in the spring.

During their overwintering season, the Western Monarch will migrate 620 miles to the California coast from their inland summer sites. “Overwintering” refers to the region chosen by the butterflies to shelter over the winter months. The coast provides a warm and dry climate to protect them from the season's rain and cold temperatures. The Eastern Monarchs migrate for the same reasons, but they journey up to 3,000 miles from Northern America and Southern Canada to the Oyamel Fir Forest in Central Mexico. For the Western Monarch specifically, the shorter migration distance means that sightings are more common year round across California.


Example of Monarch Butterfly wing coloring. Photo Credit: T. W. Davies © California Academy of Sciences

Starting in September, the butterflies leave the western Rockies and travel to the coast of California, where the butterflies find large groves of plants like eucalyptus trees to roost for the winter. They will cling to the trees to rest during the wet and rainy season, leaving during the day for sunning and to find food from nectaring flowers. The Western Monarch has far more overwintering sites than the Eastern Monarch which causes two main differences in the species’ overwintering behavior. First, the Eastern Monarch will have a much more densely populated roosting area, which causes entire trees to be engulfed by the insect. Second, the larger distance between roosting sites makes the western species more stable than the Eastern Monarch because if an environmental disaster were to wipe out a roosting site, less of the overall population would be lost. Continue reading here!

Education & Outreach


OC Habitats continues to host our Coffee & Conservation (C&C) events. These talks are typically hosted on Saturdays, where we discuss diverse environmental topics. Head on to our Learn page or OCH YouTube channel to watch!


OC Habitats started to record podcasts of our Coffee & Conservation (C&C) events last summer! New episodes are released on the 1st Friday of each month. Listen to our episodes at OC Habitats Coffee & Conservation (OCH C&C) in Spotify!


OCH has been leading at least one guided hike per month, providing safe weather conditions. One of our hikes include a 2.5-mile Marine Protected Area (MPA) hike along the tide pools at Little Corona Beach to learn about the tide pools and the species living therein. We are always developing and expanding our hiking program to include new hikes at Laguna Canyon, Santiago Oaks Regional Park Trail, Dripping Cave Trail, San Joaquin Marsh Hike, and more, where the public can learn about the various species living in the area and how to leave no trace. If you’re interested in joining us on our hikes, space is limited, so register through Eventbrite!

Our Volunteers
of the Quarter!

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Ellis Waterman

Rebecca Cummings


Bianca Borja-Barba

Habitat Restoration


OC Habitats has partnerships with several organizations in Orange County to restore and protect our local habitats and species. We continue to look for volunteers who are committed to restoring and maintaining our native habitats and species here in Orange County. If you are interested in collaborating with us, please contact! We love collaborating with other organizations to recruit volunteers.

Marshland Conservation with Huntington Beach Wetlands Conservancy. Help with habitat restoration of the Magnolia, Brookhurst, Talbert, and Newland Marshes along PCH in Huntington Beach. Work in these marshes include non-native plants and debris removal, creating channels to allow water flow, installing native plants, and more! Occurs every 3rd Saturday of the month.

Coastal Sage Scrub Restoration with Turtle Rock Nature Center. Help to restore habitat at Turtle Rock Nature Center in Irvine by removing plants and invasive species.

Santiago Park Cleanup with the City of Santa Ana. Help with the beautification of Santiago Park in Santa Ana to encourage people to spend more time outdoors and make a difference in the community!

Salt Marsh Restoration with Project Grow. Join OC Habitats and Project Grow in our effort to restore the salt marsh habitat at Upper Newport Bay Nature Preserve! Occurs evert 1st Friday of the month in 2024.

Upcoming Events & Opportunities

January 2024

  • Thursday, January 4th, 9:45-12:15 PM: Turtle Rock Nature Center (TRNC) Restoration

  • Saturday, January 20th, 9 - 12 PM: Huntington Beach Wetlands Conservancy (HBWC) Restoration

  • Saturday, January 20th, 11:30 - 2 PM: Marine Protected Area (MPA) Hike (From Little Corona to Crystal Cove)

  • Wednesday, January 24th, 2 - 4 PM: Santa Ana Park Clean-up

  • Saturday, January 27th, 8:30-11 AM: Guided Hike at O'Neill Regional Park

February 2024

  • Friday, February 2nd, 8:30 - 10:30 AM: Salt Marsh Restoration at Upper Newport Bay (UNB)

  • Saturday, February 17th, 9 - 12 PM: Huntington Beach Wetlands Conservancy (HBWC) Restoration

  • Tuesday, February 20th, 11 - 2 PM: OCH Booth at UCI Sustainival

  • Saturday, February 24th, 7:30 - 11 AM: OCH at OSO Fit 5K Fun Run & Community Health Fair


March 2024

  • Friday, March 1st, 8:30 - 10:30 AM: Salt Marsh Restoration at Upper Newport Bay (UNB)

  • Saturday, March 16th, 9 - 12 PM: Huntington Beach Wetlands Conservancy (HBWC) Restoration

Please visit Eventbrite to sign up for our events. Contact for inquiries.

Join Our Crew!

OCH is looking for people who want to share their talents and time to improve their local environment and habitats.  We have many opportunities to get involved and some are listed below.



  • Become a Habitat Monitor

  • Join our Habitat Education Team

  • Help with Administrative Tasks

  • Help with Outreach and Marketing

  • Become a Nature Hike Guide

  • Work on OCH's Social Media Outreach

  • Help with ongoing Restoration Projects

  • Work with our Grant Writing Team to secure funding for our organization, programs, and projects.






  • College students earn credit through CSUF, CSULB, Saddleback, UCI, and more

  • Gain experience in the conservation field, a grassroots nonprofit, business administration, public speaking, education, and more.

  • Become a film or art intern for OCH.

  • Click Internships above for application.

Join our Board

  • We are always looking for people to help us reach our goals and mission. ​Submit your resume, references and cover letter to

We look forward to hearing from you!

Volunteers of the Year



Ginny Gregurek
Drew Kosicki
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Tiffany Chao
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Evie Andrade
& Jo King
Eric Peña


Tom Gee


Bianca Borja


Crystal Ryan &
Trevor Stocking


Ross Griswold


Cheryl Dyas &
Michelle Lee

2023 Staff of Year

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