Photo by John Schreiber.
Photo by John Schreiber.

Orange County supervisors on Tuesday accepted a gift from billionaire Donald Bren’s Irvine Co. of 2,500 acres near Orange and Anaheim Hills to be preserved as open space.

Acceptance of the gift scraps plans for about 5,500 homes on the property that was approved earlier.

Previously, the Irvine Co. had donated nearly 55,000 acres, or about 60 percent of the Irvine Ranch, to the county to be preserved as open space.

Supervisor Todd Spitzer — who took over as the board’s vice chairman today — noted the county accepted 160 acres from the company in 1897 that was used to create the county’s first park, Irvine Regional Park.

“Today, Irvine Regional Park is a jewel in an increasingly urban county,” Spitzer said. “Before us today is a gift of 2,500 acres that not only will expand Irvine Regional Park but also complete the preservation of the county’s northeastern canyons. This gift will combine with previous Irvine Company donations to create an unbroken stretch of preserved land from Irvine to Anaheim Hills and from Orange to the Cleveland National Forest.”

The supervisor added, “these permanently preserved canyons, hills and meadows are a treasure not only for the people of my district, but for everyone across Orange county and all of Southern California.”

The property is visited by more than two million people annually, according to the Irvine Co.

The newly donated land is about the size of Golden Gate Park in San Francisco and San Diego’s Balboa Park combined.

The donated land in Anaheim Hills includes 1,100 acres bordered by the Riverside (91) Freeway and the Eastern (241) Toll Road and is next to open space in Gypsum and Weir Canyons that was given to the county in 2010.

Some county officials had raised concerns about the cost of maintaining the open space, but Spitzer said Irvine Co. has created an endowment that ably covers the expense.

City News Service

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