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DOVE CANYON : Public May Visit Audubon Sanctuary

October 21, 1994|FRANK MESSINA

For the first time in more than 20 years, the public is being invited onto the 4,000-acre Starr Ranch Sanctuary.

Since 1973, only wildlife researchers and Audubon Society members have been able to set foot onto the 4,000-acre refuge. But the environmental group wants to give the outside community a glimpse of how the sanctuary works.

"We'd like to welcome the public to our back yard, and give people a chance to see what Orange County was like before all the neighborhoods were built," said Audubon spokesman Ken Fortune.

Generally undisturbed by mankind, the ranch is rich in wildlife, with 75 bird species, 360 types of plant life and 35 animal species.

"We've got gnatcatchers and coastal wren," Fortune said. "When I was there last year, it only took a few minutes to spot a lazuli bunting and a western tanager, two beautiful birds."

The fifth largest privately owned land holding in Orange County, Starr Ranch Sanctuary was donated to the Audubon Society in 1973.

Tours will begin on Oct. 29. Phone reservations are required and must be made before Tuesday. The number of people allowed onto the ranch will be limited, so organizers recommend calling as soon as possible.

Guided tours of the wilderness preserve will take place every half hour from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. For information and reservations, call (714) 858-1013.

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