Winter 2014
Celebrating our 
First Five Years!

Reata Park Construction is Moving Quickly

Volunteer Spotlight -
Tim and Ryan Neely


New Year's Resolution: Become a 2014 Member



Brad Gates, President
Dick Paulsen, V.P. 
and Treasurer
Tim Neely, Secretary
Mike Barth
Greg Dillion
Mike Evans
Matt Gaffney
Al King
Rhonda Kreger
Mark Nielsen
Tom Ostensen
Paul St. Pierre
Derek Ostensen, Conservation Consultant
Robert R. Redwitz, CPA


San Juan Capistrano
Open Space Foundation is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit public benefit corporation that was established in
January 2009.

Our mission is to acquire and promote the preservation, restoration, expansion, improvement and public use of open space within the City of San Juan Capistrano to enrich the quality of life for area residents.

Celebrating our First Five Years!
In January 2009, a small group of local citizens saw a need in their community and were inspired to make a difference. Although the city had acquired hundreds of acres of open space thanks to two voter-approved bond initiatives, the land often lay neglected and unused as the city lacked funding for improvements. These volunteers went forward with a mission: to preserve, protect and restore the city's public open space for the enjoyment of current and future generations.
What started off as an idea between neighbors five years ago, has blossomed into a successful non-profit organization. The Foundation has grown over the years, but is still completely volunteer-run and 100% of donations go directly toward open space improvements. Volunteers do it all - from clearing invasive weeds and building fences to handling administrative duties.
We are proud of what we have achieved in our first five years! Here is a look back at a few of our major accomplishments:
Click here to view
NWOS photo gallery
©Eddie Perlas/Epic Photos 
June 2011 - Northwest Open Space (NWOS) Staging Area
This 68-acre property sat fenced and vacant for 20 years, unable to be used by the public. A team of 50 Foundation volunteers built a new multi-use staging area with split rail fencing, irrigation, watering troughs, picnic tables, hitching post, new driveway entrance, and monument sign. The site is open daily and is a popular destination for hikers, bikers, equestrians and picnickers. 
Click here to view
2C Ranch photo gallery
©Eddie Perlas/Epic Photos 
June 2012 - 2C Ranch Staging Area
This 109-acre site in the NWOS was purchased by the city in 2009 and was in total disrepair. Foundation volunteers installed numerous improvements - such as split rail fencing, picnic tables, a watering trough, hitching post, and stone monument - transforming this underused site into one that is usable and accessible by all. The city held a ceremony officially dedicating the site in October 2013.    

Click here to view
dog park photo gallery 
©Eddie Perlas/
Epic Photos 
August 2013 - Dr. Joe Cortese Dog Park 
Located in the NWOS, the dog park is named after beloved local veterinarian Dr. Joe Cortese. Thanks in large part to a generous contribution from Capistrano Animal Rescue Effort, Foundation volunteers turned this once unusable area into a fun destination for residents and their pets. The park features play areas for large and small dogs, doggie drinking fountains, picnic tables, and benches.
Coming Soon! Reata Park and Event Center
Foundation volunteers have been busy working on our biggest project yet - the Reata Park and Event Center! Located on the corner of Ortega Highway and Reata Road, this 18-acre site is part of the city's 132 acre open space property that includes the City's RMV Riding Park. See the article below for exciting details on our progress!

We have accomplished a great deal in our first five years, but more remains to be done. With your generous support through volunteering, membership, and donations, we will continue in our mission to bring you open spaces that are safe and fun places for you and your family!

Reata Park Construction is Moving Quickly
Walkways wind through native plants and trees
©Eddie Perlas/Epic Photos
What was once a weed-infested, dirt lot at the corner of Ortega Highway and Reata Road is being transformed by the Open Space Foundation into the beautiful Reata Park and Event Center. Foundation volunteers have been making improvements to the site over the past year. 

The thoughtful design of the park is evident as tree-lined walkways, scenic event spaces, and native plant landscaping flow seamlessly through the area. Benches dot the landscape offering a place to rest and contemplate life with picturesque views of the park and its natural wildlife. The native plant garden is one of the largest and most extensive in California, and will require minimal maintenance and water. As a result, Reata Park will require less water than any other park in the city.

A mounting ramp for disabled riders has been installed
©Eddie Perlas/Epic Photos
Reata Park is completely ADA accessible, including pathways, restrooms, and a specially built mounting ramp for disabled riders in the equestrian area. Every detail, down to animal-proof trash containers, is being handled to ensure that this park will meet the community's needs for many years to come.

Final touches are also being made to the historic structure that will be used as the new Welcome Center. Foundation volunteers sought out a former resident of the house, now 92 years old, who shared her memories and photos. Great care has been taken to restore this historic structure as accurately as possible and preserve another piece of San Juan Capistrano's history.

Enjoying the view
at Reata Park
©Eddie Perlas/ 
Epic Photos
Foundation volunteers have already donated more than a thousand hours to transforming Reata Park. When completed later this year, the area will be a perfect destination for a stroll or picnic, as well as for large events such as weddings, family reunions, and corporate retreats. View photos of our progress by visiting the Reata Park and Event Center Photo Gallery on our website. 

A huge project like this can only succeed with your support! Donations are needed to fund all of these wonderful improvements. Please email us if you would like to donate to this project - your generosity will make a difference in our community!

Volunteer Spotlight - Tim and Ryan Neely

For Tim and Ryan Neely, volunteering with the Open Space Foundation is a family affair. On any given Saturday for the past year, you can find this father and son team working alongside other dedicated Foundation volunteers at the Reata Park and Event Center.

Tim Neely ©Eddie Perlas/ Epic Photos 


A resident for 40 years, Tim has had a long interest in preserving and maintaining open space. He was the founding Executive Director of the nonprofit Nature Reserve of Orange County, established to protect, manage, and restore 37,000 acres of habitat in the County's central sub-region. A tireless volunteer, he has continuously served on a wide variety of city committees and commissions since 1982, and became a founding board member of the Open Space Foundation in 2009. Tim contributes his time to the Foundation in many ways, including physically working onsite to construct its projects.

Ryan Neely ©Eddie Perlas/ Epic Photos 


Ryan works at Ortega Tack & Feed and is an active equestrian. He began volunteering with the Foundation as a way to help the community and spend extra time with his dad. Over the course of working on two Foundation projects, he realized how much he enjoys working with other volunteers as well. "It gives you a real feeling of satisfaction building something that people will use and enjoy," said Ryan. "Through volunteering, I've met so many great, like-minded people who also want to do something for the community. I enjoy the camaraderie and meeting people I may have never met otherwise."

The Neelys hard at work
at Reata Park

©Eddie Perlas/Epic Photos 


Tim and Ryan have worked on everything from building fences and shade structures to installing irrigation lines and spreading ground cover. No matter what the task, the Neelys enjoy tackling them together. "I am so proud of Ryan's participation in the Open Space Foundation projects," said Tim. "He works all week and then donates one of his weekend days to give back to the community. It's a big commitment."


Volunteering runs deep in the Neely family and we hope other families will be inspired to volunteer as well. The Open Space Foundation
thanks Tim and Ryan Neely for their outstanding dedication
to preserving and maintaining the city's open space areas for the enjoyment of current and future generations.


New Year's Resolution: Become a 2014 Open Space Foundation Member!
Open Space Foundation members make a difference
©Eddie Perlas/Epic Photos 
Kick off the new year right by joining the Open Space Foundation! Your membership donation has a direct and substantial impact on the success of our projects - and it's tax-deductible! 
The Foundation is a grassroots organization dedicated to making the city's open spaces accessible to all. It is completely run by volunteers so your donation goes directly toward installing open space improvements.  

There are many benefits to becoming an Open Space Foundation member, such as: 

  • Subscription to the Open Space Foundation's quarterly e-Newsletter
  • Membership certificate
  • Advance notice of public events
  • Sponsor recognition in select Open Space Foundation publications
  • Knowing that you are doing something positive for your community!

Join or renew today! For more information and/or to register online, please visit the our website