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Suisun in the News

18 Apr 2012

Suisun Area Offers Colorful Outings

By Peter Ottesen, Stockton Record

Just an hour's drive west of Stockton on Highway 12, outdoor adventurers will find free destinations and activities and, for a small fee, an opportunity to ride the rails through the prairies and rolling hills, within easy reach of the Suisun Marsh, the largest contiguous brackish marsh on the West Coast. So, dress in layers, grab a picnic lunch and binoculars, and prepare for a day afield.

Here are some highlights found in Solano County's wide-open spaces.

» Jepson Prairie Reserve - Spring is the ideal time to view wildflowers such as Fremont's goldfields, yarrow, yellow carpet, fringed downingia and mini mature lupine at the preserve, known for its tiny flowers that survive winter and add vibrant colors to the landscape of vernal pools and grasslands. Guests on a docent-led wildflower walk at the usually closed King-Swett Ranches likely will discover a sea of pink, purple and yellow flowers. Check for dates and times at solanolandtrust.org.

» Ride the rails - Want a unique vantage point to view wildflowers? How about from the window of a vintage rail car? The Western Railway Museum at Rio Vista Junction will be running special Scenic Limited trains every Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday during April to view wildflowers, such as poppies, goldfields, brass buttons, vetch and sheep's sorrel. The Scenic Limited takes visitors 5 miles down the old Sacramento Northern Railway, south from Highway 12. During the hour-long train ride, passengers will have an opportunity to view impressive displays of native wildflowers that cover the hillsides and fields. Also running on Saturdays in April is the Vintage Comet, which will combine wildflower viewing in the beautiful late afternoon light with tasting of local wines produced by Suisun Valley Co-op wineries. Contact the Western Railway Museum - (707) 374-2978 or wrm.org - for departure times and fares for both excursions.

» Grizzly Island Wildlife Area - Located about 10 miles southeast of Fairfield in the heart of the expansive Suisun Marsh, the wildlife area offers a 71/2-mile, self-guided tour along Grizzly Island Road with designated stops at several parking lots along the route. During spring, Grizzly Island has some of the highest nesting densities of waterfowl (mallard, cinnamon teal and gadwall) found anywhere in California, and nesting areas for northern harriers and short-eared owls. Shorebirds like killdeer and black-neck stilt are abundant. Visitors also will have an opportunity to view herds of tule elk and their newborn calves, and river otters. Admission is free. Information: (707) 425-3828 or dfg.ca.gov/lands/wa/region3/grizzlyisland/willifetour.html.

» Suisun Marsh - This coastal wetland and inland marsh is designated a Globally Important Bird Area by the American Bird Conservancy and is home to 221 bird species and serves as the resting and feeding ground for thousands of waterfowl migrating on the Pacific Flyway. Year-round residents of the Suisun Marsh include the common yellow-throat, marsh wren, song sparrow, black rail, great egret and northern harrier. Set on the northeast edge of the Suisun Marsh is Rush Ranch, a Solano Land Trust property that conducts scheduled guided tours of the tidal marsh. On April 28, Rush Ranch will hold its 22nd annual open house. Admission is free. Information:
(707) 422-4491 or RushRanch.net.

» Rescue center - The Suisun Wildlife Center in Suisun City provides sanctuary for injured wildlife that have been rescued from the surrounding area. Visit the wildlife center to learn about the ecology of the Suisun Marsh and see some of the injured wild animals that are being cared for. Admission is free. Information: Suisun Wildlife Center, (707) 429-4295 or SuisunWildlife.org.

» Target shooting - Among the best sporting clays venues in the U.S. is found at Birds Landing Hunting Preserve, set among the hills and meandering sloughs of the Suisun Marsh. The preserve is set about 8 miles off Highway 12 in the rural community of Birds Landing. Test your shooting ability on up to 20 clays stations as well as 5-stand. Instructors available. Open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Wednesday through Sunday. Information: (707) 374-5092.