Orange Coast/Irvine Ranch Conservancy

Irvine Ranch Conservancy is a non-profit, non-advocacy organization, committed to the highest possible standards of long-term land stewardship. Based in Orange County, California, our Mission is to ensure the protection, restoration and enhancement of the natural resources of the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks forever and to provide diverse opportunities for public participation by conducting and supporting scientific, recreational and educational initiatives and programs. Our Vision is for the 50,000 acres that make up the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks to be cared for and treasured to the highest possible standards. People come from near and far to visit, natural resources are stewarded to ensure long-term sustainability and resilience, and the land is a source of broad community participation and pride. The conservation and recreation successes of the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks are a model of how urban wilderness can be protected and managed through a network of public/private partnerships, and of how private initiative can catalyze public benefit. The programs of the Irvine Ranch Conservancy inspire growing, active public support for the land in surrounding communities.


  • Irvine Ranch Conservancy
  • California State Parks

Michael O’Connell

Executive Director, Irvine Ranch Conservancy

Contact Mike about: Partnership Development, Public Agency Relations, NonProfit Management and Strategy, Endangered Species Policy and Planning, Collective Impact Models and Networks, Natural Resource Stewardship, Public Programs and Volunteer Management

Michael is the founding Executive Director and oversees all aspects of land stewardship, community programs, and business operations for Irvine Ranch Conservancy. He has 30 years’ experience in land protection, non-profit management and conservation science including senior positions with The Nature Conservancy and World Wildlife Fund. He has served on the Board of Governors of the Society for Conservation Biology and the Advisory Board of the Bren School of Environmental Science and Management at UC Santa Barbara, where he is a visiting lecturer. Michael is currently on the Dean’s Leadership Council for the Ayala School of Biological Sciences at UC Irvine and the Board of Directors of the Crystal Cove Conservancy. He has a bachelor’s degree with honors in Geology from Carleton College and a Master’s in Conservation Biology from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies.


  • Irvine Ranch Conservancy: Executive Director
  • Irvine Ranch Conservancy/Orange Coast: Partner
  • CA Network: Core Team Member

Contact Mike:
(714) 508-4750
[email protected]

Jim Newland

Asst. District Superintendent, Programs and Services, Orange Coast District, California State Parks

Contact Jim about: Public Land Management, Land Use History and Planning, Environmental Compliance and Permitting, and Interagency Coordination

Jim Newland is a historian and manager with California State Parks. He is current serving as an Environmental Program Manager working on several pilot projects to help implement the Department’s Transformation efforts systemwide. One of these projects is focused on improving and integrating State Parks’ partnerships with other land management agencies, non-profit partners and to improve relationships with the UC and CSU systems. He has served as a manager of natural and cultural resources, interpretation and education, environmental compliance and planning sections as well as serving as a Park and Assistant District Superintendent. Jim received his B.A. in Social Sciences (history and geography emphasis) and M.A. in Public History from San Diego State University. His interests and experience include public land management, land use history and planning, environmental compliance and permitting, and interagency coordination.


  • California State Parks: Asst. District Superintendent, Programs and Services, Orange Coast District
  • Irvine Ranch Conservancy/Orange Coast: Partner
  • CA Network: Working Group Member (Defining Landscape Stewardship)

Contact Jim:
[email protected]