The Irvine Ranch Conservancy is a non-profit, non-advocacy organization. Their mission is to protect, restore and enhance the natural resources of the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks in perpetuity and to provide diverse opportunities for compatible public enjoyment by catalyzing and conducting scientific, recreational, and educational initiatives and programs.

Mission: Hunt down and collect the elusive acorn.
Party: Five tenderfoot volunteers. Two seasoned docents. And me.

We were escorted deep into the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmark to mysterious Limestone Canyon, the land of giant oak trees. We were ordered to harvest precious acorns that would later be forced to sprout and grow under optimal conditions. Their ultimate fate, however, would be banishment to a single spot for the rest of its long life in order to restore habitat within The Ranch.

Once we pulled up to the massive oaks I was immediately asked, “Do you want to wear some snake chaps? The Ranch has a very healthy rattlesnake population.” I laughed to myself skittishly, yet declined. I didn’t want to be encumbered by these lumbering contraptions if I had to react quickly. If a snake wanted me, they would have to catch me. We encountered no deadly rattlesnakes that day. There were, however, nice snakes, tarantulas, eagles, and owls. We were also spared any attacks from the bobcats, foxes, and mountain lions that also inhabit the land. Most of our time was spent strolling the great wilderness, picking acorns from both the trees and ground, while taking the occasional spot check for any mauling type animals. Then after we had enough acorns, our gracious docents chauffeur us around showing us more of the expansive reserve including the beautiful Dripping Springs.

This is simply the best place in Orange County that I have seen for hiking and mountain biking. And there are a myriad of other volunteering opportunities if hunting acorns isn’t your bag.


Orientation: No.
Commitment: 3hr. nature hike picking acorns.
Cost: $0

This entry is part of 2011’s Project 365 – Volunteering 12 places in 12 months.