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Orange County Focus

ORANGE : Turning Over New Leaf at Old Park

September 07, 1993|ANDREA HEIMAN

The oldest regional park in Orange County is beginning to look new again.

Since 1987, members of the Sea & Sage chapter of the National Audubon Society have been planting shrubs, flowers and trees in Irvine Regional Park as part of the native plant re-vegetation project.

"Over the years, some of the shrubs have been replaced by turf or have gotten worn down through use of the park," said project coordinator Susan Sheakley. "Our objective is to create corridors of shrub cover that would connect the interior of the park with the natural areas on both sides."

For the past six years, more than 100 volunteers have planted a variety of 40 native plants at the park in an effort to create a "native habitat," Sheakley said. They have used species of plants that are found within a mile of the area, including plants and trees from the oak and sycamore families.

"We're trying to put back into the park the plants we're losing," Sheakley said.

Sheakley said coordinators are using natural areas in the county as models for the re-vegetation project, which is a joint venture between Sea & Sage and the county's Department of Harbor, Beaches and Parks.

About seven acres have been re-vegetated so far, she said, and at least 30 acres will be re-vegetated during the life of the project, which will take 10 years.

To accomplish the task, each acre is broken into sections, with a team of about five volunteers working in each section. About 150 members of the 3,000-member society have participated in the restoration; about 20 come out every two weeks to water and maintain the plants.

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