Irvine Ranch Conservancy invites the community to get involved in stewardship programs to help preserve the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks and open spaces. Invasive weeds threaten the local habitat, disrupting the natural ecosystem and impeding native plants and wildlife. Joining a stewardship program to help combat invasive weeds not only helps the local lands, but also offers an opportunity to connect with nature and enjoy the great outdoors.
“It’s hard to imagine that a little weed can be so dangerous to the expansive open spaces, but when they spread – and they do – it becomes a serious threat to our native plants and wildlife,” Stewardship Coordinator Rachel Lambert commented. “The support we receive from the community is so important and appreciated, and to see the look on a volunteer’s face when they realize they’re making a difference is truly priceless.”
Sahara Mustard is a harmful exotic weed that has invaded thousands of acres across Southern California, and is encroaching on the Landmarks. Over the past five years volunteers have successfully stifled the Sahara Mustard at Loma Ridge within the Irvine Ranch Open Space. Volunteers continue to maintain and monitor the invasive weeds at Loma Ridge, which is vital to keeping the weed at bay. The work of mustard-busting volunteers also led to the discovery of a new population of Sahara Mustard in Gypsum Canyon, but because of the hard work of stewards the weed was nearly eradicated.
Removing invasive weeds not only helps native plant life thrive, it helps the local wildlife. The Cactus Wren is a little bird with big charm, known for its bold markings, raspy call, and fondness for living in groups. Simple actions like removing invasive weeds and watering native plants help this small bird maintain its place on the Landmarks, and gives volunteers a chance to be an active part of the preservation process for the Cactus Wren and many other animals on the open spaces.
No experience is necessary for stewardship programs on the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks, and all tools are provided. It’s important to wear appropriate clothing and footwear, and remember to bring sunscreen, water and light snack. Click the programs below for more information and to register.
- Pulling Together at Quail Hill on Thursday 2/16 helps keep wildlife healthy by weeding artichoke thistle from the Quail Hill loop in Irvine. This activity takes place on uneven terrain and sturdy hiking boots are recommended.
- Sahara Mustard Pull at Loma Ridge on Thursday, February 2/16 is an important program that helps remove harmful, exotic Sahara Mustard from the Landmarks. The program is reoccurring.
- Be a Friend to the Cactus Wren on Friday, 2/17 helps the local Cactus Wren thrive by removing invasive weeds and watering native plants.
- Sahara Mustard Pull at Gypsum Canyon on Thursday 2/23 helps staff volunteers remove pesky invasive Sahara Mustard.
- Dripping Springs Trail Restoration on Sunday, 2/26 invites volunteers to spend the afternoon restoring grassland, coastal sage scrub and woodland habitats, then hike to Dripping Springs.
Join Irvine Ranch Conservancy volunteers to preserve the local lands. All activities are free with required pre-registration, which closes at 4 p.m. the day prior to each event. Some programs are suitable for children 12 and over, and children must be accompanied by a parent or adult guardian. For more details on stewardship programs on the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks visit LetsGoOutside.org/activities.
Credit: Irvine Ranch Conservancy.