A small group got the grand tour today!
For the seventh year, this continues to be one of the most remarkable days for any outdoor or nature enthusiast. After meeting toward the rear of Irvine Park we entered the Irvine Ranch Conservancy property and began our orientation. Dr. Jutta Burger, now an OCCNPS director and the Managing Director of Science and Stewardship for the IRC, explained the history of the land, as well as its likely future.
We set out in two four-wheel drive vehicles and over the next 20+ miles and six hours we were presented with some of the most amazing land in Southern California. We travelled to the base of Fremont Canyon, up Coal Mine Road, up Weir Canyon and along a ridge above Blind Canyon, all in the northern portions of the conservancy and all in areas not otherwise accessiable to the general public. At various stops, we stopped to scout for plants and discuss what we were seeing, but we also received great lessons on a large assortment of other natural history and ecology topics. These included animal tracking and scat identification, yucca ecology and the insect guilds that depend upon these plants, soil and geology, invasive plant management and much more.
We learned many of the plants associated with various soils, topography and habitats. The botanical highlight of the trip was probably the discovery of a population of many-leaved dudleya (Dudleya multicaulis), perhaps from a new location. We recorded the coordinates and carefully removed a specimen to send to the herbarium at UC Riverside.
A terrific day that was only possible because of the efforts of our great friend Dr. Jutta Burger and the many hard-working volunteers of the Irvine Ranch Conservancy, especially Bob Huttar and Dick Newell.