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Our Times: Orange County Communities

Irvine

March 06, 2000|Kristiane M. Ridgway, (949) 764-4309

Across from the UC Irvine campus, 46 acres of newly restored wildlife habitat are springing to life.

Thanks to a $2.5-million wetland restoration project, a chunk of the San Joaquin Freshwater Marsh Reserve has been rehabilitated to offer "a smorgasbord for 250 different species of birds and I don't know how many invertebrate," said Gary Gorman, executive director of the Huntington Beach Wetlands Conservancy.

The 220-acre reserve, purchased in 1970 by the UC regents, is one of 33 in UC's Natural Reserve System being preserved for teaching and research.

After a century of farming and urban development damaged the marsh's ecosystem, the San Joaquin wetlands suffered from neglect. Cut off from the San Diego Creek in the 1960s by an earthen channel, the marsh filled with 6 feet of sediment before the Southern California Wetlands Recovery team intervened.

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