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The 10th Anniversary of the Irvine Ranch California Natural Landmark Designation

PictureLimestone Canyon

On Earth Day in 2008, nearly 40,000 acres of open space on the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks were designated as the first California Natural Landmark.  The designation came on the heels of a new state program that recognized the best examples of natural heritage. We are proud to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the designation this year, and look forward to celebrating many anniversaries to come thanks to the support of all the land owners, partners, volunteers, and the community. 

The path to being designated a California Natural Landmark involved many qualifying components. California lands that are home to exceptional biotic communities, habitat, and animal species are considered, and the riparian, woodland, and coastal sage scrub communities found on the Landmarks made for ideal candidates. Hundreds of wildlife species and various geological rarities also made the Landmarks a viable and interesting option for the first-time honor. 
The designation process is extensive, open to public and private lands, and must be attained through an application process. The State Department of Parks and recreation prepares a list of qualifying scientists with a background in the particular natural region who can carry out specific studies. After an assessment, the scientists’ report goes under peer review and ultimately a determination is made as to whether the area qualifies for the designation.
When the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks earned the first official designation, it was an honor that helped identify the Landmarks as a natural area that best illustrates the biological and geological character of the state.  The designation also promoted the scientific and educational values of the preserved lands, and helped strengthen public appreciation while fostering an interest for the Landmarks.
“We’re thrilled to be celebrating the 10th anniversary of this designation,” commented Dave Raetz, Irvine Ranch Conservancy Deputy Director. “We’re also excited to continue preservation efforts and strategic programming to prolong the beauty and livelihood of the open spaces. We look forward to working with the landowners and our partners to protect and restore the Landmarks for decades to come.”
Achieving the California Natural Landmark designation not only recognized the magnificent habitats and geological wonders found on the lands, it recognized and encouraged the  stewardship of extraordinary examples of natural resources found on some of Orange County’s most beautiful open spaces.