Wildlife Spotlight: California Sycamores
Think of the trees in a child’s drawing: full, leafy green canopies over thick, sturdy trunks. The California sycamore is a living example of this classic representation. Sycamores, a common sight on the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks, grow in canyons and riparian habitats, and are sometimes employed for urban landscapes. The sycamore is recognizable for its mottled bark, which gives it the appearance of white and brown patches. Sycamore bark is not as elastic as the bark of other trees, which typically stretches to accommodate a tree’s growth; the rigidity of sycamore bark results in the bark sloughing off in patches. Sycamores can grow to well over 100 feet in height and develop long, leafy green branch spans.
Wildlife Spotlight: Bobcats
If you’ve enjoyed a hike or bike ride through any of the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks, there’s a good chance you’ve traced the same path as a bobcat! Named for their short tails, these medium-sized felines are also recognized by their spotted coats and distinctive, black-tipped ears. They are a vital part of the local food chain, primarily hunting birds and small mammals like mice, rabbits and squirrels.
Built into the Shady Canyon trail network in the City of Irvine’s Open Space Preserve, Rabbit Run trail is well known among mountain biking and hiking enthusiasts for its technical challenges and natural beauty. However, over the years erosion has taken its toll, leaving certain portions of the trail with deep ruts caused by water runoff. In some sections, these ruts were bordered by sharply slanting rocks, making the trail difficult to negotiate for both hikers and bikers.
Spotlight on Wildfire Prevention
Autumn can be a magical season for outdoor enthusiasts. As the leaves begin to change color and the weather starts to cool, many people find that it’s the perfect time of year to get outside and explore nature. But in Southern California, the change in season also brings an increased risk of wildfire to our open spaces. Wildfires are a serious threat in Orange County, but we can all do our part to prevent them from starting and prepare our communities to minimize the damage.
Most of the wildlands in Orange County go without any rainfall through the hot summer months, causing vegetation to become extremely dry and susceptible to fire. To make matters worse, dry and hot Santa Ana winds can push down from the mountains out towards the sea, creating the perfect conditions for wildfires to spread quickly.
Register for stewardship programs including the “Restoration and Resilience” activity at the Native Seed Farm
Nature lovers can give back to the environment and learn how volunteering can have a direct impact on their natural surroundings during National Public Lands Day on September 22 and beyond. Traditionally held on the fourth Saturday of September, this year’s National Public Lands Day theme is “Restoration and Resilience.” Visitors can celebrate this nature-inspired holiday by registering for a special program at the Native Seed Farm and signing up for stewardship activities throughout the year.
“Innovative and ambitious restoration projects are happening across the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks,” said Dave Raetz, Irvine Ranch Conservancy Deputy Director. “There is no better way to connect to the State and National Landmarks in Orange County’s backyard than through stewardship programs. In 2017 alone, our volunteers contributed approximately 44,000 hours of their time to restoring the open spaces. National Public Lands Day is a great opportunity for the community to learn more about how they can positively impact local plant and wildlife on the Landmarks all year long.”
Discover the unique features of the open spaces and register for a hiking & fitness program
The Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks offer the community a multitude of trails with diverse flora, fauna, and geological wonders to discover. As the weather cools down, community members can increase their heart rates and enjoy the fresh air of the outdoors by participating in a variety of hiking & fitness activities offered on the open spaces, many of which are free and open to the public with pre-registration.
Whether visitors are looking to challenge themselves with a cardio hike or simply enjoy the outdoors, there are numerous programs tailored to a wide variety of interests and skill levels. Outdoor enthusiasts can review the difficulty rating listed with each activity to better gauge which program is right for their fitness level. The difficulty ratings are organized between levels 1 – 5 and based on criteria including distance, average pace, estimated stops, accumulated elevation, steepness of ascents and descents, and trail surface and type.
Join a stewardship program on the Native Seed Farm and Native Plant Nursery
National Planting Day is quickly approaching! This nature-inspired holiday encourages the public to come together to help rebuild the community’s local ecosystem and enhance its biodiversity. To celebrate National Planting Day on Saturday, September 8th, nature lovers can join stewardship programs at the Native Seed Farm and Native Plant Nursery in Irvine. Volunteers will contribute to restoring Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks while connecting with their natural surroundings.
Welcome to the Irvine Ranch Conservancy "News from the Field" blog. These articles are written by Conservancy staff about activities and projects in and near the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks.