West Coast
A stand up paddle boarder makes his way through the glassy still water as the sun rises over Upper Newport Bay in Newport Beach on Wednesday morning, April 15, 2020. Newport Bay is the largest estuary left in Southern California. It’s a place where freshwater mixes with saltwater creating a unique habitat tucked away from the masses and for people to walk and bike during coronavirus pandemic. (Photo by Mark Rightmire, Orange County Register/SCNG)

CA - New book details how advocates saved Upper Newport Bay

Back in the day, they fought for the bay. If a group of advocates hadn’t stood up against plans for the Upper Newport Bay to be dotted with development, the pristine estuary could have become a private place shut off from the public who wouldn’t be able to enjoy the natural landscape.

A newly released book, “Saving Upper Newport Bay,” details the rich history of this unique estuary, where fresh water and salt water mix to create a ecological haven for wildlife and a natural getaway for people trying escaping busy Orange County.

“It’s such a unique environment,” the book’s author, Cassandra Radcliff, said. “What I want them to learn about from the book is that you have to keep fighting for what you believe is right. If you get all the people behind you and work together, you can get it done.”

What exists today at Upper Newport Bay is the result of advocates who fought to save the land just a few years prior to the start of Earth Day, which celebrating its 50th year on April 22. It was a time when people started realizing if they didn’t protect precious natural resources, they’d be gone for good.

“It doesn’t exist anywhere else around here,” Radcliff said.

The book tells the story of how a young Jay Robinson, 14 at the time, came home one day from playing around the bay to tell his parents, Frank and Frances, about a sign he saw posted up that was cause for concern.

“Right to pass by permission and subject to control of the Irvine Company,” the green sign warned.

There was talk the Irvine Company, which had developments sprouting up throughout the county and especially in Irvine and Newport Beach, had plans to turn the wetlands into upscale housing developments with private bay-side beaches – cutting off access to anyone who didn’t live in the neighborhood.

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