The Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks stretch across more than 40,000 acres from Weir Canyon to south Irvine, and are filled with native plants and wildlife. Preserving the natural habitat on the Landmarks is a big job, and the community is invited to help care for the open spaces by joining a stewardship program. Volunteer independently or coordinate a group for a variety of stewardship activities during daily and long-term programs, and give back to nature by becoming an ambassador of the lands!
“Volunteering as a steward is a rewarding opportunity to spend time outdoors and build a relationship with the lands,” Matilde De Santiago-Barrows, Community Stewardship Coordinator, said. “The time people spend here makes an impact and helps preserve the open spaces.”
Dripping Springs in OC Parks’ Limestone Canyon Nature Preserve is part of an ongoing restoration project dedicated to converting Dripping Springs ranch road into a single-track trail. The lower portion of the trail has been successfully restored and Irvine Ranch Conservancy staff and volunteers are working to restore the top of the trail. Volunteers will ride in an open-air safari-style truck to the upper portion of the trail to plant native shrubs including buckwheat, white sage, and sage brush in picturesque Dripping Springs.
“There’s so much beauty right in our own back yard and there are so many ways to give back to the local habitat. It all starts with planting a seed,” Santiago-Barrows said.
Some seeds that are harvested from the Native Seed Farm are planted and cared for onsite and at two nurseries found on the Landmarks. The Native Plant Nursery at Quail Hill in the City of Irvine grows native seedlings to be planted on the nearby Quail Hill Trail, where more than 60 native shrubs were recently planted with the help of the Youth Action Team.
The Native Plant Nursery at Augustine Staging Area is located in OC Parks’ Limestone Canyon Nature Preserve and offers stewardship programs twice a month in a beautiful oak woodland setting. From the Native Seed Farm to the nurseries to the lands, the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks are reliant on the production of seeds and the dedicated volunteers that help local species thrive.
Irvine Ranch Conservancy welcomes the public for various recreational programs throughout the year that can sometimes lead to land degradation. The Santiago Oaks Stewardship in OC Parks’ Santiago Oaks Regional Park facilitates planting, watering, and weeding to help combat the effects of hiking, biking, and riding off-trail, ensuring visitors can come back to lands that are restored and cared for.
Join the stewards of the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks to enjoy fresh air and beautiful scenery while connecting with nature. Most 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 stewardship program visit www.LetsGoOutside.org.