|Team Name: Irvine Ranch Conservancy Volunteers
Award Category: Grow
Why This Team is Extraordinary:
The Irvine Ranch Conservancy Volunteers are shining stars of the environmental community. They are stewards of the Open Spaces of Orange County and specifically for the Irvine Ranch California and National Natural Landmarks, prized for its beauty, unusual geology and extraordinary diversity of flora and fauna, the Landmarks feature many special places unlike anywhere else in the nation. The Irvine Ranch Conservancy volunteers are ambassadors for this very special land that is home to hundreds of species of plants and animals, including eagles, badgers, mountain lions, Tecate cypress trees, and many rare species of birds, reptiles, amphibians and plants. Scientists have identified this region as one of the world’s biodiversity “hot spots” — an area with large concentrations of different species. Their work on the Landmarks is so important and we are utterly amazed by their continued dedication to the land during this past year when we secured a 94% volunteer renewal rate. Their continued support through donations, supporting the activities we have been able to offer to the community, diligently fulfilling patrols, picking up litter, grooming and keeping up the trails, checking the cameras, caring for the flora and the fauna, has been pivotal to our work during the tragic events we have seen that can harm these biological treasures. Rare and biologically rich coastal sage scrub and chaparral habitats are the primary features that make the land worthy of Natural Landmark designation. Embedded within the expanses of scrub are imperiled natural communities such as native grasslands, stream corridors and live oak woodlands, as well as important populations of rare and endangered plants and animals so close to ever growing major population centers. We normally choose a few volunteers who may support us across the organization and go over and above in many ways to earn the highest honor we give to volunteers, but this year has truly tested the land through various hardships including: fire, drought, and urban growth. The year has challenged us each at a personal level. So, we chose to honor our core of volunteers and thank them for their continued support and vigilance to the land and the Mission of the organization.