Because the federal government has not kept its commitments, a vital portion of the Orange County Central-Coastal NCCP was never protected, and is now threatened by a proposed shooting range. EHL is acting to defend the reserve.

In 1996, the Orange County Central-Coastal Natural Community Conservation Plan (NCCP) was adopted, with EHL support. The goal was to create an ecosystem reserve, mitigate for development, and preserve the natural heritage of the region. A highlight of the NCCP – now called the Nature Reserve of Orange County – was the incorporation into the reserve of over 1000 acres of prime coastal sage scrub and California gnatcatcher habitat on the former El Toro Marine Corps Air Station. According to the NCCP, the El Toro land plays an "essential role" for species conservation, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service anticipated making it a National Wildlife Refuge.

Over a decade later, the federal government has still not complied with the plan. Rather, the land was turned over to the Federal Aviation Administration, which is now pushing for a destructive shooting range in what should be sacrosanct reserve land. Many more threats will emerge in the future. The result is that public confidence in these habitat plans is being eroded: Development occurs but conservation doesn’t.

To help resolve the problem, EHL has generated articles in the press, written to the responsible agencies, and is coordinating efforts with other NCCP participants.