Native plants are sprouting and wildflowers are beginning to bloom on the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks, but there’s another form of plant life popping up across the open spaces: invasive weeds. Pesky invasive weeds threaten the habitat, disrupting the natural ecosystem and impeding local plants and wildlife. The Landmarks are home to many stewardship programs that help combat invasive weeds, and the community is invited to join the fight against these formidable foes. Registering for a stewardship program not only helps the local lands, but also offers an opportunity to connect with nature and enjoy the great outdoors.
Sahara Mustard is a harmful exotic weed that has invaded thousands of acres across Southern California and is encroaching on the Landmarks. Over the past five years volunteers have successfully stifled the Sahara Mustard at Loma Ridge within the Irvine Ranch Open Space. Volunteers continue to maintain and monitor the invasive weeds at Loma Ridge, which is vital to keeping the weed at bay. The work of mustard-busting volunteers also led to the discovery of a new population of Sahara Mustard in Gypsum Canyon, but because of the hard work of stewards the weed was nearly eradicated.
Removing invasive weeds not only helps native plant life thrive, it helps the local wildlife. The Cactus Wren is a little bird with big charm, known for its bold markings, raspy call, and fondness for living in groups. Simple actions like removing invasive weeds and watering native plants help this small bird maintain its place on the Landmarks, and gives volunteers a chance to be an active part of the preservation process for the Cactus Wren and many other animals on the open spaces.
No experience is necessary for stewardship programs on the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks, and all tools are provided. It’s important to wear appropriate clothing and footwear, and remember to bring sunscreen, water, and light snack. Click the programs below for more information and to register.
- Pulling Together at Quail Hill on Thursday 2/16 helps keep wildlife healthy by weeding artichoke thistle from the Quail Hill Loop in Irvine. This activity takes place on uneven terrain and sturdy hiking boots are recommended.
- Sahara Mustard Pull at Loma Ridge on Thursday, February 2/16 is an important program that helps remove harmful, exotic Sahara Mustard from the Landmarks. The program is reoccurring.
- Be a Friend to the Cactus Wren on Friday, 2/17 helps the local Cactus Wren thrive by removing invasive weeds and watering native plants.
- Sahara Mustard Pull at Gypsum Canyon on Thursday 2/23 helps staff and volunteers remove pesky invasive Sahara Mustard.
- Dripping Springs Trail Restoration on Sunday, 2/26 invites volunteers to spend the afternoon restoring grassland, coastal sage scrub, and woodland habitats, then hike to Dripping Springs.
Join Irvine Ranch Conservancy volunteers to preserve the local lands. All activities 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 on the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks visit LetsGoOutside.org/activities.