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San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary

Strategic Plan

Restoring the Duck Club Building
by John Walter
Irvine Ranch Water District
Sea and Sage Audubon
The Duck Club building is approximately 50 years old and has been a part of the San Joaquin Marsh for almost 25 years. The building originally was located near the Tustin Lighter Than Air Base as a duck club hunt building. As development, both industrial and agricultural, pushed southward from the Tustin area, the open land for duck hunting became less and less. This building was moved several times before it arrived at the Twenty Ranch Duck Club in the late 60's. Twenty Ranch operated this building as a duck club until the late 80's.
Development brought a halt to the practice of operating a hunt club inside an urban area. The Irvine Ranch Water District immediately began an effort to rehabilitate the Duck Club, what is now the Audubon House, and construct a public restroom facility for civic events. In addition to restoring the Duck Club buildings, IRWD planted the area with many native plants and forged a cooperative venture with environmental groups to utilize this natural area for study and discussion.
The Irvine Ranch Water District also actively involved the Sea & Sage Audubon Society in the formation of the San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary Inc, a non-profit educational foundation. The purpose of the San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary Inc. is to promote better understanding of the wetlands and wildlife. In this purpose, Sea and Sage Audubon has been extremely successful involving almost 4,000 children since 1992 through an extensive half-day long nature discovery program for elementary school children, and a week long summer study program about Orange County Wildlife.

Pond Water Study through Microscopes
the Beginning of the Education Program

There has been great cooperation between the Irvine School District, Irvine Ranch Water District, Sea & Sage Audubon, and National Audubon Society. The Irvine Ranch Water District also joined in a cooperative venture with the city of Irvine, the Irvine Historical Society, and the Irvine Company to preserve the three historical houses that are on the property today. All of these houses were slated for demolition, but were saved and moved to this location where they were refurbished by the Irvine Ranch Water District and utilized for employee housing.

These are the facts as I remember them. To be totally honest with you, you can take out almost every phrase where it says Irvine Ranch Water District and insert Peer's name. One day when he and I were driving around the marsh, he asked me if I thought that this entire vision was worth it. I told him that it was an ambitious vision, but certainly one worth having. I have found participating in his vision to be one of the best work experiences that I have ever had in my life. And you are exactly right, he never does like to take credit.

John Walter

1. The Legend 2. Safari at the IRWD Reclamation Site 3. Preservation of San Joaquin Marsh
4. Ranch Hand of the Year Award 5. Historical Perspectives 6. How Sea & Sage Found a Home
7. History of the Duck Club 8. The San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary 9. More About Peer Swan

Sea & Sage Audubon Society
PO Box 5447 • Irvine, CA 92616 • 949-261-7963