As the weather warms and spring approaches, Orange County residents can look forward to spotting colorful wildflowers across the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks. However, not all blooms are welcome on the open spaces. Invasive non-native species prevent native plants and wildlife from thriving and decrease the biodiversity that makes the Landmarks so unique. It’s a critical time to remove invasive species that steal nutrients, space, and light from native plant life and threaten local protected wild lands. Nature lovers can join the fight against invasive species by registering for a stewardship program on the Landmarks!
“Invasive species on the Landmarks are our number one natural resource management issue – it’s a persistent and constant threat. Not weeding invasive species for just one year would allow them to multiply exponentially and cause extreme damage to the open spaces” commented Irvine Ranch Conservancy project manager and ecologist, Nathan Gregory. “We rely on the community volunteers to join our monthly and weekly invasive plant removal programs to increase the invasive weed removal effort out on the land.”
On Thursday, February 15 from 8:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. volunteers can help fight the Sahara mustard species during the Sahara Mustard Pull at Loma Ridge in OC Parks’ Limestone Canyon Nature Preserve. This pesky exotic plant has invaded thousands of acres across Southern California and is making its way through the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks. Irvine Ranch Conservancy staff and volunteers need the community’s help to keep this weed at bay at Loma Ridge to stop it from infesting our wildlands.
The Pulling Together at Quail Hill program on Thursday, February 15 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the City of Irvine’s Quail Hill focuses on spotting and removing the invasive plant artichoke thistle, which degrades the habitat for birds and other wildlife. This activity takes place on uneven off-trail surfaces and sturdy hiking boots and pants are recommended.
On Saturday, February 24 from 8:30 a.m. – 12 p.m. volunteers are encouraged to join the Milk and Italian Thistle Pull at Shoestring Trail/Limestone Canyon activity in Limestone Canyon Nature Preserve. Join Conservancy staff as we pull annual invasive weeds like the Milk and Italian thistles that invade the Oak Woodlands near Shoestring Trail.
Volunteers can visit the City of Newport Beach’s Buck Gully Reserve on Friday, March 2 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. during the First Friday Habitat Restoration in Buck Gully to help pull invasive plants and allow native plants and wildlife to thrive. Participants can enjoy the coastline of Newport Beach as they make a positive impact on the protected landscape.
These adventurous and rewarding events will include bending, kneeling and walking across slopes and uneven terrain. All training and tools are provided, and kids ages 12 and over are welcome to participate with parent or guardian. All programs are free with required registration, which closes at 4 p.m. the day prior to the event. For more details on the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks visit LetsGoOutside.org.