NEWPORT BEACH, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Culminating more than 50 years of open space master planning on the historic Irvine Ranch, the Irvine Company today announced a major land gift of 2,500 acres near Orange and Anaheim Hills now approved for 5,500 homes that instead will be donated as open space.
The gift builds on previous donations to create one of the largest urban land preserves in the nation, stretching from the coastal mountains to the sea. In all, the lands that will be gifted bring the grand total of parklands and open space donated by the Irvine Company to nearly 55,000 acres, or approximately 60% of the 93,000-acre Irvine Ranch.
The gift comes as the Irvine Company celebrates its 150th anniversary in 2014. The Irvine Company has long treasured land as a precious resource to be used for the benefit of the public. In 1897, the founding Irvine family donated more than 300 acres to the people of Orange County for what today is Irvine Regional Park.
“As we celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Irvine Company, this is a perfect opportunity to add to our open space and parklands legacy,” Irvine Company Chairman Donald Bren said. “With this gift, we complete our open space vision.”
“The lands represented by this new gift are last pieces of a spectacular open space puzzle that has been assembled on The Irvine Ranch,” said Michael O’Connell, executive director of the nonprofit Irvine Ranch Conservancy, which works with the County of Orange to manage natural lands while providing public volunteer and recreational opportunities. “Preserving these areas protects the balance of stewardship and recreation that ensures the long-term health of this tremendous natural resource.”
In recognition of the biological and geological significance of the open spaces of The Irvine Ranch, thousands of acres of preserved lands were designated as a National Natural Landmark in 2006 and as a California Natural Landmark in 2008.
Enjoyed by Millions
Prized for their beauty and public accessibility, the preserved lands of The Irvine Ranch are visited by more than 2 million outdoor enthusiasts annually. The lands’ trails, parks and open spaces are enjoyed for hiking, biking, running, riding horseback, camping, picnicking at Irvine Regional Park or connecting with nature on guided tours of the diverse geography and unique habits.
The northern and southern open spaces of The Irvine Ranch are linked by the Mountains to Sea Trail, which stretches 22 miles from oak-filled Weir Canyon to Upper Newport Bay. The Mountains to Sea Trail makes exploring the diverse open spaces of The Irvine Ranch easy and accessible.
The newly gifted lands span an area equal to the size of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park and San Diego’s Balboa Park combined. In Anaheim Hills, the donation covers 1,100 acres bordered to the north by the Riverside (91) Freeway, alongside the Eastern (241) Toll Road and adjacent to previously preserved open spaces including Gypsum and Weir canyons, which were donated by the Irvine Company to the County of Orange in 2010. In East Orange, the land includes 1,400 acres east of the 241 and alongside the southeastern shore of Irvine Lake, next to open space given by the Irvine Company to the County of Orange in 2010.
“Part of the great quality of life we enjoy here in Orange County stems from those who had the foresight to value open space as much as development,” said Supervisor Todd Spitzer, who represents the Third District where the land is located. “I want to thank the Irvine Company for foregoing their development approvals and providing this land gift for the public’s access and enjoyment.”
Adding to Canyons, Irvine Regional Park
The land gift will combine to create a contiguous area of canyon open space on the northern reaches of The Irvine Ranch, joining with Weir Canyon, Fremont Canyon, Black Star Canyon Limestone Canyon, Irvine Lake, and Irvine Regional Park, which will see an additional 16 acres of added parklands with the donation.
The 93,000-acre Irvine Ranch stretches nine miles along the Pacific coast, 22 miles inland and encompasses more than one-fifth of Orange County’s total 798 square miles. Within its boundaries lie the city of Irvine and parts of Newport Beach, Laguna Beach, Tustin, Orange and Anaheim, plus unincorporated county land and portions of Santa Ana and Costa Mesa.
The Irvine Ranch is considered one of the largest and most successful master-planned communities in the United States with award-winning residential villages, nationally recognized schools and public safety and abundant parks, trails and open space. For more, visit Forever, a website dedicated to the open spaces of the Irvine Ranch.