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Importance of “Early Detection, Rapid Response” Surveys

Learn about "Early Detection, Rapid Response" (EDRR) surveys with Irvine Ranch Conservancy, as they work to prioritize and remove invasive plants, protecting and restoring California's wildlands. 🚫⛏️ #InvasiveSpeciesManagement #EnvironmentalConservation

With spring comes floral blooms and scientific surveys. Every year, Irvine Ranch Conservancy (IRC) assists with “Early Detection, Rapid Response” (EDRR) surveys. The survey’s goal is to identify new populations of invasive plant species so land managers can then work to prioritize and remove the plants to mitigate the negative effects. These surveys take place during the blooming season, providing a perfect opportunity to recognize and record different species. 

IRC works with botanist, James Bailey from Hamilton Biological, who covers multiple routes throughout the spring and summer. With IRC staff and volunteers helping when needed, Bailey surveys two areas: the Coastal Reserve and Central Reserve. He then records the invasive plant species on CalFlora, a nonprofit database providing information on wild California plants. These surveys serve as essential early detection tools with the recordings being documented in real-time, enabling IRC to quickly create and implement a plan to remove invasive species. 

Learn about "Early Detection, Rapid Response" (EDRR) surveys with Irvine Ranch Conservancy, as they work to prioritize and remove invasive plants, protecting and restoring California's wildlands. 🚫⛏️ #InvasiveSpeciesManagement #EnvironmentalConservation
The removal of invasive plant species by Irvine Ranch Conservancy staff and volunteers.

Based on severity, invasive plant species are categorized as Priority 1 or Priority 2, highlighting the urgency of their removal. The Invasive Species Control Program at IRC has been particularly focused on Priority 1 and Priority 2 species recently found in and around the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks, including:

  1. Star-thistle (Centaurea diluta) Priority 1
  2. Yellow starthistle (Centaurea solstitialis) Priority 1
  3. Stinkwort (Dittrichia graveolens) Priority 1
  4. Perennial veldt grass (Ehrharta calycina) Priority 1
  5. Stinknet (Oncosiphon pilulifer) Priority 1
  6. Thoroughwort (Ageratina adenophora) Priority 1
  7. Golden Crownbeard (Verbesina encelioides) Priority 2
  8. Sahara mustard (Brassica tournefortii) Priority 2
  9. Bullthistle (Cirsium vulgare) Priority 2
  10. Pampas grass (Cortaderia selloana) Priority 2

It can be challenging to keep up with all the different non-native plants that pop up throughout urban wildlands, but the annual EDRR surveys prove essential in managing invasive species. Recently, thanks to diligent surveying efforts, a common invasive species, Stinkwort, was newly recorded and swiftly removed from the Silverado area. Additionally, the non-native plant Smooth distaff thistle was newly discovered during an EDRR survey near Agua Chinon. Its discovery was a first and while this species was neither on the watchlist nor on an existing high-priority list, IRC prioritized removing about a dozen plants which effectively reduced the chance of this species spreading further and establishing itself in the native wildlands.

The EDRR surveys are made possible by funding from the Natural Communities Coalition, a nonprofit that helps coordinate land management, monitoring and research with partners across Orange County. Through various partnerships, IRC can successfully achieve its mission of protecting and restoring natural resources.