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Irvine Ranch Conservancy Staff Spotlight: Erin Andreatta, Invasive Species Program Manager

The Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks consist of unique biodiverse urban wildlands with important ecosystems that need protecting. One of the most critical threats to these natural habitats are invasive plants, animals and insects, as they compete with native species for vital nutrients, space and light, threatening the natural diversity of the landscape.

Invasive Species Program Manager Erin Andreatta is one of the Irvine Ranch Conservancy staff members dedicated to the conservation and protection of wildlands on the Landmarks from invasive species. Over three years ago, Erin joined the Conservancy team to prioritize the threats posed by invasive plants and animals, which is assessed annually with local partners and individuals from OC Parks, California Invasive Plant Council, Natural Communities Coalition, CA State Parks, The Nature Conservancy, Orange County Native Plant Society, CA Dept. of Fish and Wildlife, University of California, and more.

Erin prepares and implements a variety of field-oriented tasks including invasive species control, reconnaissance and digital mapping, early detection and rapid response, contractor coordination and scheduling, field crew oversight, and oversees staff and volunteer field crews during stewardship projects.

“I knew a career directly protecting the resource I value most — nature — would provide the intrinsic rewards I was searching for,” said Erin. “After earning a master’s degree in Environmental Science and Policy, I landed an internship with the Catalina Island Conservancy. Upon moving to Southern California and establishing a career here, I learned of IRC and knew its mission and contribution to this world aligned with my goals and values.”

Invasive species control is an ongoing process between the Conservancy staff, land partners and volunteers in order to help prevent non-native plants and animals from taking over Irvine Ranch wildlands and degrading the natural habitat.

“The nature of our work is extremely dynamic, keeping me hyperstimulated and constantly learning new things,” said Erin. “In the most general sense, I love the guaranteed excitement of my programs and executing the work with an extraordinary group of like-minded individuals.”

Erin is particularly fond of the oak woodlands in Weir Canyon and loves any opportunity to work in the area. In fact, one of her favorite memories took place in those specific oak woodlands.

“One blissful spring morning in 2019, two volunteers and I were surveying a side canyon off Weir Canyon for Sahara mustard,” said Erin. “The serene beauty was intoxicating. The air was light and cool, the morning sun was filtering through the oak canopy, and the charred backdrop from a recent fire made the rainbow of wildflowers carpeting the ground extraordinarily vibrant. The three of us walked mostly in silence except for a crack about when the canyon was going to morph into a fairytale and Disney characters were going to emerge. Moments like this one are invaluable, reminding me never to take our land or my work for granted.”

When Erin isn’t busy protecting the Landmarks from invasive species, she enjoys wilderness backpacking in the southeastern Sierra Nevada’s, Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Forests, as well as mountain biking, road biking, running, playing tennis, and snowboarding. She is also a pianist, passionate home cook, and currently learning how to sail.

For more information about Irvine Ranch Conservancy and invasive species control on Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks, visit IRConservancy.org  or follow the Conservancy on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.