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Volunteers Help Ensure that Native Flora and Fauna can Thrive

PictureLong-time volunteer, Ken Kadlec

Irvine Ranch Conservancy (IRC) and the City of Irvine have been hard at work managing invasive species on the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks with the help of local volunteers. While many public activities on the land quieted this past year, volunteers and staff remained dedicated to monitoring and removing invasive plant species, ensuring our native flora and fauna can thrive.  
 
The Irvine Ranch Conservancy’s Invasive Species Control team works to protect the health of local wildland habitats by stopping the spread of harmful plants, animals and insects that threaten these ecosystems. With the support and collaboration of staff, volunteers and regional partners, the team engages in a variety of activities to prevent non-native plants and wildlife from degrading the local landscape, allowing for a full flourishing of biodiversity. One such volunteer spearheading the cause is Irvine resident, Ken Kadlec. 

“Being a city of Irvine resident makes this work particularly rewarding for him,” says IRC’s Isaac Ostmann. Ken has been volunteering with the IRC’s Invasive Species Control team for 11 years. He first started volunteering and working on the land in 2003 on the City of Irvine’s Open Space. In the last few years, Ken has focused his efforts close to home on the land in Bommer Canyon. “He has been critical in our effort to stop the spread of artichoke thistle and tree tobacco there,” says Ostmann. “More importantly, he’s helped bolster biodiversity by removing threatening invasive species and encouraging native flora and fauna to thrive.”  Ken likes to point out that he hasn’t done this alone.  When discussing the work in Bommer Canyon, Ken was quick to point out that, “This has always been a group effort, with significant contributions over the years from fellow volunteers like John Hoffman, Bill Braly, Jeff Black, Don Havens and Dave Wilson.” 
 
Three of the main invasive species that the team targets and removes are tree tabaco (Nicotiana glauca), artichoke thistle (Cynara cardunculus) and castor bean (Ricinus communis), as well as a variety of other invasive species. Volunteers focus on different plants depending on the time of year and try to remove the invasive species before their seeds have a chance to spread.  
  
Although invasive species control is hard work, Ken appreciates being able to make a tangible difference on the land he’s loved for so long. For Ken, his specific job as a volunteer is the perfect combination of three things, “It’s good exercise, you’re in a beautiful setting, and you’re doing some good [for the land]. It’s a win, win, win!”   
 
If you are interested in learning more about IRC volunteers and how to become one, you can find additional information here.  If you are interested in learning about other single-day volunteer and stewardship opportunities, check out the activity listings on LetsGoOutside.org.