Tucker Wildlife Sanctuary to reopen soon as an extension of the Environmental Nature Center – Orange County Register


The 12-acre Tucker Wildlife Sanctuary that has been operated for decades by Cal State Fullerton will soon reopen as the latest extension of the Newport Beach-based Environmental Nature Center, a non-profit organization that runs school trips and provides education on local wildlife.

ENC members plan to bring new programs to the Modjeska Canyon property that teach students and visitors about ecosystems and habitats specific to the Santa Ana Mountains and Cleveland National Forest, Deputy Director said. Lori Whalen.

While the centre’s five-acre location in Newport Beach focuses her education on the California landscape as a whole, Tucker “is going to be very site specific,” she said.

“This is Orange County,” she said of the property there. “This is your backyard. “

The ENC acquired Tucker earlier this month from the San Fernando Valley Audubon Society, a branch of the California Audubon Society, which has held the deed since 1941, and gave the title to Cal State Fullerton in 1968. The sanctuary in 1929 was created as a bird paradise, managed by the owners of the land, Benjamin and Dorothy Tucker. It was consecrated as a wildlife sanctuary 10 years later.

In a press release announcing the takeover of ENC, the San Fernando Valley Audubon Society said the university announced in January that it no longer wished to operate the sanctuary and that “under our deed with CSF , this meant that the property would come ‘back to the Company.

Chi-Chung Keung, spokesperson for CSUF, said in an email that the university “has been exploring Tucker’s long-term viability for some time.”

“With the sudden retirement of the on-site warden, Cal State Fullerton determined it was a reasonable time for the game’s transition to occur,” he said. The shrine had fallen under the aegis of the school’s College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics and was available for field research projects, as well as a place for the community.

The Environmental Nature Center was contacted by the San Fernando Valley Audubon Society in February about its interest in land management, and after a brief bidding process, the escrow was closed in mid- July, Whalen said. The property, which has been closed to the public since March 2020, came at no cost to ENC, she said, but the organization will pay to make improvements and maintain the site.

“We’re going to spend money on it, improve it and make it look good and, you know, we’ll treat it like we own it,” Whalen said.

Before welcoming visitors again, a contractor will assess the property for necessary upgrades and repairs. Whalen noted a bridge that needs to be repaired and the toilets need to be ADA compliant.

Meanwhile, staff members are working on creating new curricula for school education programs at Tucker that will align lessons at each grade level, she said. The center is also considering hiring for three new positions based at the sanctuary: a full-time naturalist, a part-time naturalist and a horticultural manager.

There is no timeline yet for Tucker’s reopening to the public, Whalen said, but community programs such as guided nature walks will likely be the first offering.

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