The Creation of the Irvine Ranch Conservancy

When Irvine Company made the historic decision to transfer 57,500 acres, or nearly 60%, of our Irvine Ranch property into permanent public ownership, we also decided to do more than simply hand over the property.

We also wanted to help guarantee that the land would remain unspoiled, even as Irvine and Orange County residents would have use of it.

That’s what led to the creation of the nonprofit Irvine Ranch Conservancy. It was supported by a $50 million contribution we made for conservation and public access to the land.

Before launching the new conservancy, we took care to study similar, successful ventures, including the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy and Catalina Island Conservancy.

Board members were recruited from those organizations, and the Conservancy hired as its founding executive director Michael O’Connell, a veteran conservation scientist who had held senior positions with the Nature Conservancy and World Wildlife Fund. O’Connell got right to work catalyzing management partnerships among public landowners and connecting people to the land on hundreds of miles of trails.

Today, 17 years after its formation, the conservancy is recognized as a national model for the management of urban wilderness, balancing conservation with opportunities for recreation.