By Tracy Childs
Many guests to The Resort at Pelican Hill® quickly discover an unanticipated treat: thousands of acres of nearby open spaces waiting to be explored. Accessible virtually within minutes, these permanently protected lands offer outdoor lovers some of California’s most picturesque natural settings. Among them: the pristine beaches and hiking trails of Crystal Cove State Park; the verdant hills and valleys of Laguna Coast Wilderness Park; and the wind-swept bluffs and trails of Upper Newport Bay.
Resort guests in search of adventure, exercise and stunning views can take full advantage of the natural resources at their doorstep, whether it’s a barefoot walk on the shore of the Pacific, a kayak adventure on Newport Beach’s Back Bay, a mountain bike ride up and down a bumpy coastal hill trail or a vigorous hike through fragrant coastal sage scrub.
Inspired to protect its rugged beauty and vast habitat for rare species of plants, birds and animals, the Irvine Company® has prized its role as steward of The Irvine Ranch’s irreplaceable natural resources for nearly 150 years. More than 50,000 acres—over half the entire 93,000-acre ranch—is permanently preserved open space. It constitutes one of the largest urban open space networks in the nation. Stretching 22 miles from the Pacific Ocean to the edge of the Cleveland National Forest, the land is accessible to residents and visitors who share its affection and respect for the great outdoors.
“By preserving more than half of The Irvine Ranch, The Irvine Company has given the rarest gift of all. This gift will last forever,” says Joan Irvine Smith, great-granddaughter of The Irvine Ranch® founder James Irvine, reflecting on the scale and importance of the open space network. The magnitude of The Irvine Ranch open space legacy offers no hint of its modest beginnings: In 1897, the Irvine Company donated several hundred acres to the people of Orange County for its first public park; the area today is the popular Irvine Regional Park. Through the years that followed, the company worked closely with city, county and state governments, community groups and conservationists, as the network of open space, trails and parks steadily grew. These efforts culminated in November 2001 when Irvine Company Chairman Donald Bren announced that the company was preserving an additional 11,000 acres of beautiful and biologically important land, bringing the total to more than 50,000 acres.
The preserved open spaces are prized for their beauty, environmental importance and public accessibility. They have been designated a Natural Landmark by both the U.S. Department of the Interior and the State of California. “These designations are the culmination of years of collaboration by many of us who have been determined to protect, conserve and provide public access to Orange County’s most spectacular and biologically significant open spaces,” says Irvine Company Chairman Donald Bren. “I believe they inspire the soul and create a sense of freedom in anyone who explores them.”
More than half a century ago, William Pereira, the urban planner and architect who created The Irvine Ranch® master plan, wrote: “Master planning is not only a matter of deciding what is built on the land, but what is not.” From its beginning 150 years ago, the Irvine Company® has regarded the land as a precious, nonrenewable resource that must be nurtured and respected. The protected open spaces constitute a gift for the ages…and one that will always surprise and delight Pelican Hill® guests.
For more information and background, visit the new FOREVER™ website at irvinecompany.com/forever. And for a listing of the monthly hikes and activities on The Irvine Ranch, go to www.LetsGoOutside.org and click on “Activities and Programs.”