Department of the Interior

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Office of the Secretary
For Immediate Release: May 26, 2005
Shane Wolfe, 202-208-64166

Norton Presents Irvine Company and Nature Conservancy Partners in Stewardship Award for Work on Irvine Ranch

(IRVINE, Calif.) -- Interior Secretary Gale Norton today presented the Partners in Stewardship Award to The Irvine Company and The Nature Conservancy for their collaboration in managing the 50,000-acre Irvine Ranch Land Reserve in Orange County for both conservation and recreation.

At a ceremony at the Irvine Regional Park on the reserve, Norton commended the Company and the Conservancy for serving as a model of cooperation between the public and private sectors that is essential to natural resources conservation. She presented the award to Irvine Company Chairman Donald Bren and Nature Conservancy California Executive Director Mark Burget.

"The Irvine Ranch Land Reserve is what cooperative conservation is all about," Norton said. "A conservation-minded corporate citizen is working hand-in-hand with a conservation organization and other partners to thoughtfully and purposefully create an environment where both people and wildlife can thrive."

Beginning with an 1897 gift of land that became Irvine Regional Park, The Irvine Company has worked with local municipalities, environmental groups, community organizations and leaders, and county, state and federal agencies to set aside more than 50,000 acres to form the Irvine Ranch Land Reserve. The reserve is home to hundreds of species of native plants and animals, and features terrain varying from rugged mountains to rolling meadows to sandy beaches. It provides the citizens of Orange County beautiful open space and scenery, a venue for outdoor recreation, and habitat for wildlife.

Since 1992, The Nature Conservancy has performed a leading stewardship role on 34,000 acres of the reserve. The Conservancy conducts ongoing studies and monitoring of the reserve's diverse native plant and animal species, while guiding restoration programs to ensure their survival for future generations. Additionally, the Conservancy oversees a public access program that enables visitors to enjoy recreational and educational activities on the Reserve.

Norton presented the Partners in Stewardship Award on behalf of five Interior Department land management agencies -- the National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Reclamation, and Bureau of Indian Affairs - in conjunction with the U.S. Forest Service and the Army Corps of Engineers.

The award grew out of the first-time gathering in November 2003 of these land management agencies at a conference called Joint Ventures: Partners in Stewardship. The conference provided more than 1,600 attendees a unique opportunity to learn what makes partnerships work, hear success stories, and gain skills to bring back to their organizations. The agencies decided to recognize innovative partnerships that establish a model for others to follow with the Partners in Stewardship Award.



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