The Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks are home to biological treasures and unique landscapes that stretch from the mountains to the sea. Nearly 40,000 acres of preserved and protected lands comprise the Landmarks, and include expansive open spaces known as “biodiversity hotspots.” Outdoor enthusiasts of all ages can register for a program on the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks to connect with the great outdoors while enjoying some of nature’s rarest habitats.
A biodiversity hotspot is an area with a high percentage of rare plant and wildlife, and the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks are home to many. From the coastal treasures of the City of Newport Beach’s Crystal Cove and Buck Gully to the breathtaking geological wonders of OC Park’s Limestone Canyon Nature Preserve, Orange County is a unique area that offers many opportunities to enjoy the attributes of a Mediterranean climate. Documented by Native Americans, Spanish explorers, early settlers, and now teams of scientists, the Irvine Ranch Landmarks continue to thrive as a biodiversity hotspot protected by many partners and filled with unique plant and wildlife.
What lives in biodiversity hotspots?
Biodiversity hotspots are filled with plant life including rich coastal sage scrub and chaparral habitats. Within these habitats are natural communities such as native grasslands, stream corridors and live oak woodlands. Naturally these rare habitats are home to rare species, and depending on the area, draw important populations of plant and wild life including the endangered Tecate Cypress tree, native wildflowers, and sage.
Wildlife includes healthy populations of insects and arthropods (even tarantulas!), mule deer, Desert Cottontail rabbits, and many more. Majestic birds have also been known to migrate through the Landmarks, including golden and bald eagles. Thanks to a wildlife monitoring program facilitated by scientists and volunteers, wildlife in these biodiversity hotspots has been recorded and captured on film for nature lovers to enjoy.
Can I register for programs to experience biodiversity hotspots?
Nature lovers can register for an array of programs on the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks, including recreational, interpretive, and stewardship activities. Wilderness Access Day: Bommer Canyon in the City of Irvine on Saturday, May 19 welcomes hikers, bikers and equestrians to enjoy the trails for self-guided access from 8 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Nature lovers looking to give back can register for the 3rd Sunday Restoration Day at OC Parks’ Peters Canyon Regional Park on Sunday, May 20 from 7:30 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. to help improve native habitat by removing harmful invasive plants while enjoying the surrounding natural resources.
Outdoor enthusiasts can also enjoy the City of Newport Beach’s Buck Gully, the City of Irvine’s Bommer Canyon and Quail Hill, many areas of OC Parks and so much more on self-guided trails.
Most activities are free with required registration, which closes at 4 p.m. the day prior to the event. Whether hitting the trails or registering for a program to enjoy the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks’ biodiversity hotspots, it’s always important to wear appropriate clothing, bring sunscreen, water, and snack. For more details on the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks visit LetsGoOutside.org.