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Introducing the Seasonal Science Series: Join IRC in Exploring Important Restoration Areas

IRC staff and volunteers hosting an interpretive hike.

A new program has been added to the growing list of Irvine Ranch Conservancy’s activities! This unique initiative focuses on bringing participants to different restoration areas otherwise inaccessible to the public. Not only will it provide an educational opportunity to learn about the work of Irvine Ranch Conservancy (IRC) in enhancing natural habitats, but it will also raise awareness and create a deeper understanding of the importance of nature conservation. We invite you to join IRC on one of our upcoming “Seasonal Science” series activities!

The “Seasonal Science” series is an interpretive hike, with approximately one to two activities offered per season. The goal is to raise awareness about the ongoing restoration projects IRC is working on, emphasizing that the land they help manage is not only used for recreational purposes but also as a critical site for scientific restoration and conservation. IRC hopes that more members of the public will gain insight into the importance of protecting native habitats and the vital work being done on the land.

The series launched this winter with an interpretive hike highlighting the restoration of ponds used by Western Spadefoot Toad (scientific name Spea Hammondii) a project that IRC has dedicated years to. Through pond enhancement and habitat restoration, which included the surrounding landscaping as well, IRC has made significant strides in supporting the local Western Spadefoot Toad population. Participants had the exclusive opportunity to hike to the restoration site, an area typically off-limits to visitors. Throughout the hike, IRC staff provided valuable insights into the toad’s habitat and the declining trends in the area. Participants also gained a deeper understanding of IRC’s role in restoring these habitats and promoting population growth. In fact, this particular area has witnessed the transformation of the Western Spadefoot Toad population from nearly eradicated to over 5,000 toads in the nine ponds. If you are interested in learning more, another activity is scheduled for the end of March (weather permitting), where participants can visit the restoration site once again.

IRC staff and volunteers collect data at the spadefoot toad pond restoration site.
IRC staff and volunteers collect data at the spadefoot toad pond restoration site.

Looking ahead, the series activity for spring will focus on another major project at IRC, butterfly habitat restoration. After noticing a decline in certain butterfly populations across Orange County, the IRC team and its volunteers are restoring butterfly habitats on 11 plots of land in OC Parks’ Limestone Canyon. The team has planted 12 essential nectar species for the butterflies to feed and 11 host species that provide a suitable environment for butterfly larvae. The upcoming interpretive hike will focus on visiting these restoration sites and learning about the efforts to increase the butterfly population. Plus, it will be providing participants with an up-close experience of the diverse plant species crucial for sustaining butterfly populations. Make sure to keep an eye out for activities scheduled in April and May!

Please note that these activities are open to the public and designed to be accessible for individuals of all physical fitness levels. IRC is committed to selecting areas and routes that accommodate the majority of participants.

If you are interested in joining any of the upcoming Seasonal Science Series activities, please visit letsgooutside.org/activities for upcoming online postings and registration information. Please be sure to register, as it is required for the hike!