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Learn About Endangered Species on the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks

PictureIRC staff and volunteers plant tecate cypress trees in Fremont Canyon

​The urban wildlands of the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks are made up of thousands of acres of rare and diverse plants and animals found nowhere else on earth. In fact, the Landmarks are home to some of the most biologically diverse hotspots in the world with a variety of different habitats including coastal sage scrub, chaparral, valley grassland, oak woodland and riparian communities. Within these habitats are a wide variety of plant and animal species, some of which are rare and endangered. 
 
One of the rarest species found on the Landmarks, the tecate cypress is only found in Southern California and northern Baja California and relies on intermittent wildfire in order to reproduce. Tecate cones are serotinous, meaning they release seeds in response to a specific environmental trigger, such as wildfire, rather than at the point of seed maturation. However, the frequency of wildfires in Orange County has increased over the past 50 years, which has threatened the health and reproduction cycle of the species. A wildfire event in 2006 burned a large portion of tecate cypress in Coal Canyon and Sierra Peak, and even though there are signs of the species regenerating in the area, another wildfire could severely threaten their survival. You can learn more about the tecate cypress on Irvine Ranch Conservancy’s Instagram page.

PictureCalifornia gnatcatcher

​Another rare and endangered species on the Landmarks can be found hopping through the local coastal sage scrub habitats. The California gnatcatcher is a small bird species that tends to stay tucked away in shrubs searching for small insects to eat such as beetles, caterpillars, flies, moths and small grasshoppers. Much of the California gnatcatcher’s habitats have been destroyed or displaced due to development, placing the subspecies on the Endangered Species List.
 
Today is Endangered Species Day, which recognizes the national conservation efforts to protect our nation’s endangered species and the habitats they call home. Through habitat restoration and wildlife monitoring programs, Irvine Ranch Conservancy staff and volunteers work to protect the plant and animal species that make our native wildlands so unique. Next time you head out on the Landmarks, be sure to keep an eye out for these rare and endangered species.
 
To learn more about native species on the Landmarks, follow Irvine Ranch Conservancy on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. For more information about Irvine Ranch Conservancy and conservation efforts on the Landmarks visit IRConservancy.org