Earth Day is quickly approaching and nature lovers can find many opportunities to give back to the environment on the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks. The Landmarks are a wonderful representation of the natural heritage of Orange County, and the community is invited to register for a free stewardship program in honor of Earth Day. Celebrate this national holiday throughout the month of April and beyond, and enjoy fresh air and breathtaking scenery while caring for the local lands.
Earth Day is a special occasion on the open spaces, and doubles as an anniversary. The Irvine Natural Landmarks were designated as a National Natural Landmark by the U.S. Secretary of the Interior in 2006, when protected land on the former Irvine Ranch was recognized for its rare biological and geological features. Then in 2008, nearly 40,000 acres were named the first California Natural Landmark on Earth Day. The inaugural title was earned under a new state program that recognized and encouraged the stewardship of extraordinary examples of natural resources, and the Landmarks continue to welcome the public to participate in stewardships.
The Tecate Cypress Stewardship on Monday, April 17 in OC Parks’ Fremont Canyon Nature Preserve is a wonderful way to care for the environment the week of Earth Day. The program kicks off at 9:30 a.m., and welcomes volunteers to help protect the rare Tecate Cypress tree. Nature lovers can help the Tecate Cypress by watering and weeding around young trees, directly impacting the survival of this unique forest community.
The community can also join Irvine Ranch Conservancy staff for Dripping Springs Trail Restoration on Tuesday, April 18 in OC Parks’ Limestone Canyon Nature Preserve. This single-track trail leads through grassland, coastal sage scrub, and woodland habitats and takes hikers to Dripping Springs, a natural water source dripping out of an earthquake fault. This unique feature is covered in beautiful ferns and supports many rare plants and animals in the area, and volunteers will help weed out non-invasive species to help keep the natural habitat thriving.
The Earth Day celebration continues with Pulling Together at Quail Hill in the City of Irvine. This stewardship program starts bright and early at 8:30 a.m. while the air is cool and the birds are chirping. Volunteers will help keep wildlife healthy by weeding artichoke thistle from Quail Hill Loop, and enjoy fresh air in the process. Wildflower lovers are invited to enjoy Harvest Time! Collect Wildflower Seeds at the Native Farm, where many wildflowers are currently in bloom. Held on Irvine Ranch Conservancy’s Native Seed Farm in the City of Irvine, volunteers age 8 and older can help harvest seeds from native species and plant and care for seedlings to return to the lands.
For environmentalists and outdoor enthusiasts looking for an activity on Earth Day, consider being a Steward of Santiago Creek on Saturday, April 22. Join other volunteers in removing invasive plants such as Fountain Grass and Castor Bean in the beautiful setting of the Santiago Creek wash that unfolds from the Irvine Lake Dam to Irvine Regional Park.
Celebrate Earth Day throughout the month of April and beyond to enjoy fresh air and beautiful scenery while giving back to the lands! All activities on the Landmarks are free with required pre-registration, which closes at 4 p.m. the day prior to each event. Remember to wear sunscreen and don’t forget to pack water, a snack, and wear appropriate shoes. Programs are open to the public with required registration, but space is limited and early registration is recommended. For more information and to register for a program visit www.LetsGoOutside.org.