On June 29, 2010, the Orange County Board of Supervisors voted to accept a donation of 20,000 acres from the Irvine Company to the County for preservation and guided recreation.
Much of the Irvine Ranch Open Space is adjacent to existing County Regional and Wilderness Parks. Gypsum and Fremont canyons are next to Irvine Regional Park; Limestone Canyon next to Limestone Canyon and Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park; and the Laguna Laurel portion will be operated as a part of Laguna Coast Wilderness Park.
The gift includes 1,988 acres that will become Black Star Canyon Wilderness Park, Orange County’s newest Wilderness Park.
The gifted land encompasses a large portion of the Historic Irvine Ranch, which is designated a Natural Landmark by both the State of California and the U.S. Department of Interior. This honor recognizes the geological and ecological significance and the exceptional value of these lands to California and the entire nation.
“The Irvine Ranch Open Space gift creates more opportunities for people to connect with the land and experience Orange County’s natural resources for themselves,” OC Parks Director Mark Denny said. “With that opportunity comes the responsibility of effective stewardship for this land to preserve it for the enjoyment, education and inspiration of all visitors. We are honored to take on that responsibility.”
The protected wildlands of the Irvine Ranch Open Space are available for passive recreation through various scheduled programs. These activities include hiking, mountain biking, equestrian rides, naturalist-guided tours and managed wilderness access days.
The Irvine Ranch Conservancy will continue to operate recreational programs and scientific research under a contract with OC Parks. Additionally, OC Parks Rangers will patrol the land.
Information regarding tour schedules and public programs and activities in the Irvine Ranch Open Space are available online at irlandmarks.org.