The Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks consist of nearly 40,000 acres of biological and geological diverse open spaces and are home to hundreds of species of plants and wildlife. The Landmarks were designated as a Natural Landmark by both the State of California and the U.S. Department of the Interior after scientists identified the landscape as one of the world’s biodiversity “hot spots,” or an area with large concentrations of different species. Volunteers are a vital part of keeping the trails and surrounding habitat healthy for plant life, wildlife, and the enjoyment of visitors for years to come.
Stewardship programs on the Landmarks re-introduce native plants to the environment and bring the habitat back to its natural state. As invasive plants are removed and native plants thrive, local wildlife returns and flourishes on the Landmarks. Those looking to roll up their sleeves and help restore the trails can sign up for restoration activities across the Landmarks throughout the year.
During the Give Back and Enjoy the Beauty: Dripping Springs program on Sunday, February 11 from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., volunteers are given the opportunity to connect with nature in an extremely sensitive area of OC Parks’ Limestone Canyon Nature Preserve. After riding through the canyon to the Dripping Springs Trail in a safari-type vehicle, participants will work along the trail to support the preserve’s continued beautification and protection by removing invasive weeds and planting native species. After some hard work on the lands, volunteers will be treated with a 2-mile round-trip hike to Dripping Springs, a fern-covered rock face dripping with water.
Volunteers can benefit the trail system at OC Parks’ Fremont Canyon during the Waterworks Trail Restoration: Fremont Canyon program on Tuesday, February 20. Participants will work alongside Irvine Ranch Conservancy staff and volunteers as they plant native shrubs along the new Waterworks Trail, which will help establish important habitat in Fremont for native animals. Volunteers will leave with a true sense of accomplishment after a hard day’s work improving the lands so many plants and animals call home.
Each month volunteers and Conservancy staff visit OC Parks’ Irvine Regional Park for a morning of trail restoration. This month the Irvine Park Trail Restoration Day program on Sunday, February 11 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. encourages visitors to leave the park better than they found it by removing invasive plants and planting native species to combat the effects of off-trail use. This program is a great opportunity for families to come together and give back once a month to a park so many people visit and enjoy all year long.
No previous restoration experience or special skills are needed during these stewardship activities. Irvine Ranch Conservancy encourages volunteers to wear long pants, closed-toe shoes, and long sleeves for these activities. It is also advised to bring water and a snack. Most programs are free with required registration, which closes at 4 p.m. the day prior to the event. To learn more about or to register for activities, click on the titles above or go to www.LetsGoutOutside.org/activities.