San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary

Located in the middle of the hustle and bustle of Orange County is the San Joaquin Marsh Wildlife Sanctuary. Built on more than 300 acres near Irvine, California, in the floodplain of San Diego Creek immediately above its exit into the Upper Newport Bay is the San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary.

Half of the area’s freshwater wetland coastlines have been returned to their natural state. There is no need to restore the remaining acres because they include high-quality habitat. The San Joaquin Marsh & Wildlife Sanctuary is one of the best places to enjoy nature in Southern California, thanks to its 12 miles of paths. The land was farmed in the ’50s and ’60s and used as a duck hunting range until being acquired by the Irvine Ranch Water District.

Everyone is welcome at the IRWD San Joaquin Marsh & Wildlife Sanctuary. Trail users can observe some of the more than 200 bird species that make the marsh their home, snap photos, or simply take a load off and chill out under a native willow while taking in the sights and sounds of the great outdoors. For its peaceful atmosphere, the Marsh prohibits the use of motorized cars, bicycles, dogs, horses, and other animals.

Wetlands are an essential part of IRWD’s Natural Treatment System because they filter polluted water from San Diego Creek and keep harmful substances out of the more ecologically fragile Upper Newport Bay. Within seven to ten days of contact with the bulrush and other plants, as much as 70 percent of the nitrogen is eliminated. The purified water then flows back into the creek and eventually makes its way to Upper Newport Bay and the Pacific Ocean.

The Marsh is a living laboratory where people of all ages may learn about and experience nature. Discovery Cube Orange County and the regional chapter of the National Audubon Society present a number of wildlife-focused educational events and tours, including a robust program for school field trips.

Within the confines of a major city lies a genuine wilderness region known as the San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary. This wildlife sanctuary is popular with visitors due to its convenient location, especially amongst birdwatchers and photographers. The wildlife refuge features more than ten miles of pathways winding through the property’s several ponds. Further into the sanctuary, the paths narrow down from being large dirt roads to being more like footpaths. There aren’t many amenities for tourists, so everyone should bring their own water and trash bags. Every day, from sunrise ’til nightfall, visitors can enter the sanctuary.

William R. Mason Regional Park
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