Designated a Natural Landmark by the State of California and the U.S. Department of the Interior, the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks consist of over 40,000 acres of open space stretching from the mountainous terrain in inland Orange County to the coastal community of the sea.
The City of Irvine is home to many open spaces, and welcomes nature lovers to enjoy Orchard Hills, Quail Hill, and Bommer Canyon. These expansive preserves provide the community with countless opportunities for wilderness exploration and educational outdoor adventure through public programs, with Bommer Canyon set for new planting and restoration in 2018.
“After surveying the land, we created a comprehensive list of areas in the City of Irvine Open Space Preserve that we wanted to target– areas that would benefit the most from our conservation efforts and were accessible and visible to the public,” commented ecologist and current project manager, Riley Pratt. “We are looking forward to implementing our plan this winter with 3,000 newly planted native species in Bommer Canyon, and working to restore this open space to a thriving habitat for wildlife and a true destination for outdoor enthusiasts.”
After organizing the restoration plan this past summer, Irvine Ranch Conservancy staff are engaging in site preparation by making the targeted land more workable, removing debris and harmful invasive species, and using experimental plots to pinpoint which growing methods work best for the various plant species to thrive.
Several plant species will benefit from this long-term restoration project, including California buckwheat, California sage brush, and the threatened coastal sage scrub. When native plants thrive, they enhance the habitat and attract native wildlife like the coastal cactus wren, orange throated whiptail lizard, and the California gnatcatcher, among others. The development of a diverse scrub plant community also provides food resources and a home for coyotes, deer, and several different species of birds.
Visitors can spot the restoration site in Bommer Canyon and enjoy other trails and hikes within the City of Irvine Open Space Preserve by joining several different fitness, interpretive, and stewardship programs being offered throughout the year. Click the programs below for more information or visit www.LetsGoOutside.org.
- Wilderness Access Day: Bommer Canyon on Saturday, January 20 invites hikers, bikers, and equestrians to enjoy self-guided access through the trail network in Bommer Canyon and the surrounding areas from 8 a.m. – 2 p.m.
- Orchard Hills Evening Hike on Wednesday, January 24 from 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. gives hikers the chance to explore the beautiful slopes of Orchard Hills at dusk with a 3-mile moderately paced hike.
- Trail Love – Drain Gang in Bommer Canyon on Wednesday, January 24 from 8 a.m. – 1 p.m. encourages the community to give back to the lands during the Conservancy’s mission to improve Bommer Canyon’s single track trails by protecting them from eroding during heavy rains.
- Hike to OC’s Grand Canyon with Irvine Councilmember Melissa Fox on Friday, January 26 from 8 – 11 a.m. Start your Friday morning with a 6 mile hike up the recently restored Agua Chinon to The Sinks to visit one of the Conservancy’s largest riparian habitat restoration projects.
- Mid Week Hike: Bommer Canyon on Wednesday, January 31 from 8 a.m. – 1 p.m. is a docent-led hike that allows visitors to recharge their mind and body with a 12-mile hike through Bommer Canyon.
- Pulling Together at Quail Hill on Thursday, February 15 from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. encourages volunteers to help restore native species to Quail Hill by removing invasive weeds like the artichoke thistle that hider the success of native wildlife.
Visit the City of Irvine Open Space Preserve and spot the restoration site in Bommer Canyon during self-guided and docent-led programs. All activities offered are free with required pre-registration, which closes at 4 p.m. the day prior to each event. Some programs are suitable for children 12 and over, and children must be accompanied by a parent or adult guardian. For more details on stewardship programs, hikes, and other activities visit LetsGoOutside.org/activities.