South County Helopod


SCH Number
Public Agency
Orange County Fire Authority
Document Title
South County Helopod
Document Type
NOE - Notice of Exemption
Document Description
The project site is bounded by Orange County Parks land on all sides and is adjacent to Ortega Highway (Hwy 74) at approximately 9.5 miles from the start of the highway. The elevation on the project site is approximately 500’ to 575’ above mean sea. Environments on the project site are coastal sage scrub composed of small stands of oak woodland, cactus, and larger shrubs such as laurel sumac and lemonade berry. Every year there are dozens of ignitions along Ortega Highway and the goal of the project is to reduce the spread of fires starting off of Ortega Highway by having a consistent water source along Ortega Highway by installing a helopod on the project site. The project will provide a direct benefit to over 500 homes, critical infrastructure, and nearly 100,000 acres of wildland by providing a consistent water source to assist in the suppression of wildfires. This project will include grading a small pad adjacent to a parking lot to place the helopod on and a short road to access the helopod. The project will reduce the risks associated with wildfire to the habitable structures in the nearby communities of Rancho Mission Viejo, Rancho Carrillo, Ladera Ranch and Coto de Caza. This helopod site is critical for emergency wildfire suppression in an area that is limited with natural water features that can be used by helicopters and this site will not only improve helicopter response to wildfires and turnaround time to water fill up, but will also reduce the size and impact of wildfires by suppressing them sooner. This reduction in acreage burned will benefit adjacent communities, the health and social well being of nearby residents, as well as reduce the amount of greenhouse gasses and carbon emitted into the environment and atmosphere.

Contact Information

Dave Erickson
Agency Name
Orange County Fire Authority
Job Title
Wildland Resource Planner
Contact Types
Lead/Public Agency


Southern California
Cross Streets
Project area is located 9.5miles up Ortega Hwy on the east side of the road, north of Lucas Cyn

Notice of Exemption

Exempt Status
Categorical Exemption
Type, Section or Code
Sections 15303 and 15304
Reasons for Exemption
This project meets the requirements of a Class 3 and Class 4 Categorical Exemptions: “15303 New Construction or Conversion of Small Structures”- “Class 3 consists of construction and location of limited numbers of new, small facilities or structures; installation of small new equipment and facilities in small structures;” and Class 4 Exemption: “15304 Minor Alterations to Land” -“Class 4 consists of minor public or private alterations in the conditions of land, water and/or vegetation which do not involve removal of healthy, mature and scenic trees except for forestry and agricultural purposes”. The project will increase helicopter resource impacts on wildfires, has minimal ground disturbance and will not result in significant effects on biological and archaeological resources nor the environment. Field reviews conducted by OCFA staff have confirmed that no impacts will occur, which justifies the use of a Notice of Exemption for this project. OCFA has concluded that no significant environmental impact would occur to aesthetics, agriculture and forestland/timberland, air quality, biological resources, cultural resources, geology and soils, greenhouse gas emissions, hazards and hazardous materials, hydrology and water quality, land use planning, mineral resources, noise, population and housing, public services, recreation, transportation/traffic, or to utilities and service systems. OCFA has determined this project would not impact the environment.
County Clerk


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