Sunday, April 10, kicks off National Volunteer Week, a celebration encouraging people to actively engage in their community and give back. Public support is vital to the continued long-term health of the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks, and landowners including OC Parks, the City of Irvine and the City of Newport Beach provide ample opportunities for the public to connect to the land through volunteer work.
Many single-day volunteer opportunities are available to fit all schedules, abilities and interests. Whether you’re looking for a few hours of giving back with your family or a more rugged adventure to remote restoration sites, there are many upcoming activities available. During National Volunteer Week, consider giving back to the land during one of these events:
- Restore Wildflowers and Wildlife in Limestone Canyon | Monday, April 11, 9 a.m.-12 p.m.: Remove aggressive weeds that threaten to take over wildflowers in bloom at Bee Flat, a habitat restoration site.
- Adopt a Grassland – West Loma Stewardship | Tuesday, April 12, 8 a.m.-12:30 p.m.: Remove invasive weeds and plant native seedlings to help native grassland habitat thrive in Limestone Canyon Nature Preserve.
- Tecate Cypress Stewardship | Tuesday, April 12, 9:30 a.m.-11:30 a.m.: Weed around and water rare Tecate cypress seedlings recently planted at the Fremont Canyon Staging Area.
- It’s Harvest Time! Collect Wildflower Seeds at the Native Seed Farm | Wednesday, April 13, and Saturday, April 16, 8:30 a.m.-12 p.m.: Harvest seeds from native spring wildflowers such as California poppies and arroyo lupine.
- Second Thursday Habitat Restoration in Newport Bay | Thursday, April 14, 9 a.m.-12 p.m.: Weed to help birds and other wildlife thrive in the City of Newport Beach’s Newport Bay and Big Canyon.
- Be a Friend to the Cactus Wren | Friday, April 15, 8:30 a.m.-12 p.m.: Weed along Mule Deer Trail in the Irvine Open Space Preserve to enhance habitat necessary for the survival of the coastal cactus wren, a species of special concern.
- Weir Canyon Habitat Enhancement | Saturday, April 16, 10 a.m.-1 p.m.: Plant small, easy-to-handle prickly pear cactus pads that will provide food and shelter for wildlife in beautiful Weir Canyon Nature Preserve.
These programs are led by highly trained Irvine Ranch Conservancy staff and volunteers on behalf of the landowners. No experience is needed, and all tools and training are provided. You can also find these types of public volunteer events on the Landmarks with Laguna Canyon Foundation,Newport Bay Conservancy, and the California Coastal Commission by visiting their websites.
Become a Certified Volunteer
If you find yourself wanting to volunteer on a long-term scale, consider becoming an IRC-Certified Volunteer. Irvine Ranch Conservancy (IRC) Volunteers provide support on hiking, mountain biking, equestrian, trail maintenance and stewardship programs throughout the Landmarks on behalf of OC Parks, the City of Irvine and the City of Newport Beach.
The Conservancy training program combines natural history, public interaction, field skills, CPR and First Aid trainings; and volunteers are able to choose from specific fields of training such as land steward, Native Seed Farm steward, trail guide and docent. Becoming a certified volunteer is a great way to take an active, committed role in enhancing the Landmarks while connecting to the outdoors. The next Irvine Ranch Conservancy Volunteer Orientation is July 16. Click here to fill out an interest form and be notified when more information is available.
Additional long-term volunteering opportunities are available in specialized areas such as Orange County Fire Watch, a program whose main goal is to reduce wildland fire ignition sources. Fire Watch volunteers walk along and monitor perimeters of high-risk areas in Orange County to be visual deterrents and assist with early detection of fire. The Orange County Fire Watch program is facilitated by the Conservancy in partnership with OC Parks, the City of Irvine, and the Orange County Fire Authority, with training done by Conservancy staff and OCFA. If you are interested in becoming a Fire Watch volunteer, please email Fire Watch Coordinator Kevin McArthur at firstname.lastname@example.org.
All programs on the Landmarks are free with required pre-registration, which closes 4 p.m. the day prior to each activity. Minors must be accompanied by a parent or adult guardian. Difficulty levels and age requirements vary from program to program, so make sure to check out each activity description to learn more. For more information on events, or to register, click the titles above or go to LetsGoOutside.org/activities.