As you battle traffic on I-5, it’s easy to forget why you live in Southern California. Since 1970, the population of Orange County has doubled to over 3 million and the “OC” is known as a television show more than it is an actual place. When you look past the rows of luxury cars and palm trees however, you’ll see the natural beauty of Orange County that existed long before civilization arrived. Thankfully, the good people at OC Parks are dedicated to maintaining this natural beauty for everyone to enjoy.
OC Parks is responsible for over 60,000 acres of regional parks, wilderness areas, and historical facilities. The Muth Interpretive Center is an OC Parks facility, located on the north bluffs of Upper Newport Bay in Newport Beach, CA. The 10,000 square foot facility features displays educating residents about the bay. Did you know the brackish water in Upper Newport Bay is home to six endangered bird species!?! Their staff of rangers have earned countless awards for their work, but there is more work than the rangers can handle alone. For larger projects requiring extra manpower, OC Parks calls in the big guns – the volunteers!
We arrived at the Muth Interpretive Center at Upper Newport Bay on a gorgeous Sunday morning. A large group was already gathered to assist with placing native plants in the field adjacent to the Muth Center. Native plants are a great boost to the ecosystem offering a huge number of benefits; they add beauty to the landscape, preserve natural heritage, provide food and habitat for native wildlife, slow down the spread of fire, decrease water usage, require very little long-term maintenance, and protect water quality to name a few. It was unseasonably warm, making digging holes in the rocky soil more difficult than we’d planned. I watched Tweeter Deeter break at least 4 different shovels trying to get those native plants in the ground. After a couple of hours of labor, we had planted nearly two million square inches and the lot was looking fantastic. We bid adieu to our park ranger friends and headed to a well-earned brunch. For more information about OC Parks visit www.ocparks.com.