Wildfire mitigation work will begin later this month to restore a heavily-visited 49-acre portion of the Bommer Canyon Preserve in Irvine — with the help of a $1 million grant from the California Natural Resources Agency.

The Irvine Ranch Conservancy will execute the project and manage the site for five years after its conclusion to ensure the restored vegetation is sustainable.

“The restoration site is right near the entrance to Bommer Canyon Preserve, which hosts hundreds of visitors a day,” said Irvine Ranch Conservancy spokesperson Scott Graves.

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The targeted area is overrun with non-native vegetation, which according to the conservancy, can dry up and readily ignite, posing a fire hazard to neighboring communities and wildlife. The project will remove the non-native grasses and weeds and put in their place less flammable, native vegetation.

Native plants, which stay green later in the year, will also be scattered among upland scrub habitats along drainage ways in the preserve. That means fire season could start in September instead of as early as April, according to the conservancy.

Native oak and elderberry trees will be added to the exposed parts of Bommer Meadow Trail, providing shade to visitors.

“We will mostly seed a group of shrubs collectively known as coastal sage scrub,” said Robert Freese, Irvine Ranch Conservancy’s restoration and enhancement program manager. “These include sagebrush, buckwheat, black sage plus assorted wildflowers such as gum plant and lupine.”

The work is projected to be completed in March 2026 and will include fence installation, mowing and an irrigation system to speed up the “grow and kill” cycles needed to rid the weed seeds in the soil.

The Irvine Ranch Water District, the conservancy said, will assist with the design and implementation of the irrigation system. When the 49-acre area is seeded in October 2025, the irrigation system will be used to ensure the native trees, shrubs and wildflowers properly take root within the soil and flourish.

“Since many visitors recreate at Bommer Canyon Preserve, our team will be reaching out to the community through signage and educational materials to explain the many benefits of the project as it unfolds,” Freese said.

The $1 million grant will cover the entire cost of the project, he said.

Last month, the Cattle Camp at Bommer Canyon, nestled between the Turtle Ridge and Shady Canyon neighborhoods, opened to the public after a few years of rehabilitation work, which commenced in 2021.

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