A Perfect Day for Plein Air Painting & Photography

Nearly 50 artists and photographers captured the landscape of the Transportation Corridor Agencies’ (TCA) largest conservation site along the 241 Toll Road

IRVINE, Calif. - April 26, 2019

Plein AirToday, 33 Plein Air artists and 13 photographers took advantage of a rare opportunity to take their easels and cameras behind the scenes of Upper Chiquita Canyon Conservation Area to capture a striking natural landscape in a protected wildland that is ordinarily closed to public access.

Hosted by the Transportation Corridor Agencies (TCA), which owns and manages the 1,158-acre mitigation site that includes rolling hills, grasslands and coastal sage scrub, Upper Chiquita Canyon was once slated for residential and golf course development. TCA, in partnership with environmental organizations and resource agencies, designated the nearly 1,200 acres of land as permanent open space in 1996. 

Typically closed to the public, in April 2018, TCA organized the first Plein Air painting event, and its success led to it being broadened in 2019 to include photographers. 

The artists from the Southern California Plein Air Painters Association (SOCALPAPA) and their easels fanned out across the conservation area to paint the broad landscape. Photographers from the Anaheim Camera Enthusiasts photography club roamed the canyon to capture the flora and fauna through a lens. San Joaquin Hills Transportation Corridor Agency Vice Chair Cynthia Conners, Foothill/Eastern Transportation Corridor Agency (F/ETCA) Vice Chair Chuck Puckett and TCA Director Trish Kelley were in attendance to view the artists and photographers in action and enjoy their exhibited works later in the event.

“We’re truly grateful that TCA once again has opened this spectacular wildland to our member artists,” said JoAnn Royal of SOCALPAPA. “We are passionate about plein air art and each artist created up to two paintings to show the years of effort and hard work that went into bringing the non-public land back to its pristine natural habitat.” 

The conservation area plays a critical role in supporting and providing habitat for the federally listed coastal California gnatcatcher and coastal cactus wren. The site also provides valuable connectivity for wildlife movement between O’Neill Regional Park and Chiquita Ridge to the south.

“TCA is committed to environmental stewardship, restoration and preservation,” said Chuck Puckett, Vice Chair of F/ETCA and Mayor of Tustin. “Investing more than $100 million in environmental initiatives, Upper Chiquita Canyon Conservation Area is one of 17 locations TCA has preserved as open space throughout Orange County over the last 25 years and the tolls collected from drivers help provide funding for long-term environmental initiatives.”

For a quarter of a century, TCA has been committed to balancing construction and operation of Orange County’s Toll Roads (State Routes 73, 133, 241 and 261) with the preservation of more than 2,100 acres of open space and wildlife habitat in Orange County. For more information about TCA’s environmental initiatives, visit thetollroads.com/environment.

To view photos from this year’s event, visit www.flickr.com/TheTollRoads


The Transportation Corridor Agencies (TCA) are two joint powers authorities formed by the California legislature in 1986 to plan, finance, construct and operate Orange County’s public toll road system. Fifty-one miles of the system are complete, including the 73, 133, 241 and 261 Toll Roads. TCA continues to meet the region’s growing need for congestion-free transportation alternatives.

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