Saturday, December 8, 2007

New building at Rush Ranch supplements historic character

From Daily Republic (Subscription required)
By Barry Eberling | DAILY REPUBLIC

SUISUN CITY - A recently completed, $1.3 million building has taken its place on Rush Ranch, joining such relics as a century-old wooden barn and a house ordered during the 1930s from a Sears, Roebuck and Co. catalog.

It's the new and the old. The Solano Land Trust wants to keep the pioneer character at its 2,070-acre Suisun Marsh preserve, yet also provide a jolt of energy. That modern building is a key to the latter effort.

Visitors will be able to go to a planned nature exhibit in the building. There, they will learn about the role Suisun Marsh plays in the estuary and the Pacific Flyway.

Couples will be able to hold wedding receptions there.

Researchers will stay at the building and use its lab when they come to learn more about the rare Suisun thistle and the various birds and wildlife of the marsh. Rush Ranch is part of the San Francisco Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, which helped pay for the building.

At other times, people who want to get away from the city for a couple of days might rent the building's dwelling quarters. They would be able enjoy the tules, sloughs and grassy hills of the marsh during the day, perhaps bird watch on nearby state-owned land, then spend the night in a room with such comforts as ceiling fans.

Finally, a caretaker will live there to watch the ranch and help visitors.

'It just opens up many new opportunities for people to be able to take advantage and use the Rush Ranch facilities,' Land Trust board member Bob Berman said.

To celebrate the building's completion, the Land Trust will hold a grand opening at 10 a.m. Friday. The public is invited.

Rush Ranch is located in the marsh on Grizzly Island Road, about two miles south of Suisun City and Highway 12. It is named after the Rush family, which established a cattle ranch there in 1864.

The Solano Land Trust was formed in 1986 and bought Rush Ranch in 1988 as its first major purchase. For years, people have been able to hike there and schoolchildren have come on field trips to learn about the area's Native American history.

More recently, Michael Muir, the grandson of conservationist John Muir, has started a program there in which people with disabilities can go on carriage rides.

Rush Ranch is great already, said Ken Poerner, land steward for the Solano Land Trust. But he expects the new building is among the changes that will put the preserve on the map.

"People someday will say, 'I'm from Suisun you know, where Rush Ranch is," Poerner said.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Coastal Conservancy each provided $500,000 for the building. A long list of donors gave smaller amounts. Scot Sheldon of Premier Commercial was the project manager.

Reach Barry Eberling at 425-4646, Ext. 232, or at

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