Thursday, September 29, 2011

Irvine Ranch Celebrates Five Years as a National Natural Landmark



The following is a press release announcing that the Irvine Ranch is celebrating 5 years as a National Natural Landmark. More information on special events is to come soon! Congratulations to the Irvine Ranch on a great 5 years!

Open Space on Irvine Ranch Celebrates Five Years as a
National Natural Landmark
Five years of connecting with wild open spaces from the mountains to the sea…

(Irvine, CA)— October marks the fifth anniversary of the designation of 40,000 acres of open space on the historic Irvine Ranch as a National Natural Landmark (NNL) by the U.S. Department of the Interior. This permanently protected land received the prestigious distinction because of its rare biological and geological features. The Irvine Ranch NNL is one of only 600 Natural Landmarks in the United States and was the first designated in California in nearly 30 years. 

To celebrate this milestone the Orange County Board of Supervisors, along with the cities of Irvine and Newport Beach, have proclaimed October as “Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks Month.” Special fifth Anniversary public programs will be conducted will be conducted throughout the month by organizations involved with the land including OC Parks, the non-profit Irvine Ranch Conservancy, California State Parks, and many others. These programs are in addition to more than 350 regularly-scheduled activities.

Anniversary events include hikes with special guests such as OC Board of Supervisors Vice Chairman John Moorlach and Crystal Cove State Park Superintendent Todd Lewis.  Other NNL programs will include naturalist-led hikes and mountain bike rides to visit unique features of the land that led to the Landmark designation and stewardship days allowing visitors to get involved in managing rare natural resources. For a full list of programs and to sign up online, visit www.irlandmarks.org/activities.

“The National Natural Landmark designation has been a powerful rallying point for everyone who shares the vision of excellent stewardship on these lands and wants to experience them,” says Irvine Ranch Conservancy Executive Director Michael O’Connell. “It shows people that we have the equivalent of a national park right in our own backyard.”

The open spaces of the Natural Landmark are all publicly owned and managed. Last summer, the County of Orange accepted a donation of the last 20,000 acres of private open space in the Landmark from Irvine Company Chairman Donald Bren. This brought the total to more than 40,000 acres protected forever for residents and visitors to enjoy. The City of Irvine, California State Parks and the City of Newport Beach also own parks and open space in the Landmark.

Areas designated as Natural Landmarks undergo exhaustive review by the National Park Service, and must meet high scientific standards. The preserved open space of the historic Irvine Ranch – also designated California’s first State Natural Landmark in 2008 – is part of a global “hot-spot” of biological diversity. It contains an abundance of rare habitats and species, along with rock formations and fossils that clearly illustrate Earth’s history for the last 80 million years. There are more than 250 miles of hiking, biking and riding trails to experience along with beaches, shady oak canyons, rare native grasslands, and incredible views. Visitors may catch a glimpse of a soaring hawk, a shy bobcat or a gentle mule deer.

To learn more about the landscape, plants and animals that live on the Natural Landmark, visit http://www.irlandmarks.org.  For more information about special events in October to celebrate the Landmark’s fifth Anniversary, go to http://www.irlandmarks.org/activities . Become a friend of the Landmarks at www.facebook.com/irlandmarks and stay current on all the latest happenings in the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks.

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