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San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary

Strategic Plan

San Joaquin Marsh
Historical Dates

by Lou  Denger

Environmental Project Coordinator
Irvine Ranch Water District

1944 Irvine Company drilled a well in the San Joaquin Marsh adjacent to the "Old" San Diego Creek channel and distributed the water through an extensive network of low pressure concrete irrigation liners.
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1952 The Joaquin Marsh was actively irrigated and farmed producing seasonal truck crops such as lima beans, peppers, tomatoes, and sugar beets.
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1965 The "Old" San Diego Creek channel was cut off and a levee was constructed roughly paralleling the present alignment of Harvard Avenue, which confined San Diego Creek along t he southeastern boundary of the San Joaquin Marsh.
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1966 Construction began on the Michelson WAter Reclamation Plant. The remainder of the San Joaquin Marsh was still actively farmed.
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1970 Campus Drive extension built, separating the San Joaquin Marsh into two parcels. Currently the ownership of the marsh is divided between Irvine Ranch  Water District 378 acres and the University of California Irvine 202 acres.
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1972 Farming activities started to decline and by 1972, the Irvine Company leased portions of the San Joaquin Marsh  to several duck clubs. By 1973, networks of duck ponds and a levee system was in place.
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1988 The last remaining duck club ceased  operation and the City of Irvine assumed management of the ponds.
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1990 Irvine Ranch Water District assumed the maintenance and operation of the ponds.
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1993 Audubon Society (Sea and Sage) established on site.  Educational programs and general bird watching activities scheduled throughout the year.
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1995 Irvine Ranch Water District purchased the remaining Irvine Company holdings in the San Joaquin Marsh.
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1996 The San Joaquin Marsh Enhancement Plain EIR was certified by the City of Irvine, and became the underlying document for restoring the San Joaquin  Marsh.
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1997 The duck ponds were transformed into structured wetland ponds consisting of 6 irregular shaped ponds and two pump stations.
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1997 Irvine Ranch Water District assumed responsibility for sediment removal for basins 1-3 located within the San Diego Creek.
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1997 Riparian habitat restoration (43 acres) -- North section (Zone 11) of the San Joaquin Marsh.  Restoration consisted of site grading, irrigation and plant installation.
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1998 Michelson/Carlson Berm constructed -- Construction consisted of grading, irrigation and landscape installation.
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2000 Riparian/Upland habitat restoration (24 acres) -- Duck pond area  (Zone 10) of the San Joaquin Marsh.  Restoration consisted of irrigation and plant installation.
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2001 Creek and Marsh pump station upgrades (5 cfs to 10-12 cfs).

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