Saturday, July 9, 2016

Rush Ranch's Marsh Trail: overlooking and approaching Suisun Slough

Suisun Slough winding through marshland
The Suisunes were a tribe of Native Americans living in and around a marsh area in what is now Solano County in Northern California. Suisun City is named for the Suisunes. Other geographic names also refer to the people who once resided in the land next to the estuary of the northwestern section of San Francisco Bay: Suisun Bay, Suisun Slough, Suisun Marsh and Suisun Hill. The Bed Rock Mortars (Indian grinding rocks) along the South Pasture Trail on Rush Ranch give evidence of Native American activities around the tidal marsh with plenty of fish, ducks and other wetland species.

Marsh Trail west of Rush Ranch's visitor center leads to a nearby overlook with vistas of Suisun Slough, Suisun Marsh to the south and Goat Island Marsh to the north. An overlook panel underlines that this is a rare sight today:

A huge wetland, like the one before you, is a rare sight in the San Francisco Bay Area. Most of the wetlands that surrounded the San Francisco estuary have been drained or filled for agriculture or development. Suisun Marsh was saved from filling and development, in part, by duck hunters who valued the wetland for the hundreds of thousands of ducks it attracts each year.

Bulrushes growing in the shallow marsh water
Marsh Trail loops around the Goat Island Marsh. The Marsh Trail Guide hand-out—available at the visitor center—points out local plant and animal life as well as constructions made by man over time to manage the wetlands. Cattails and tules (see picture above) grow abundantly where the depth of the water is less than four feet. River otters and hawks hunt for fish and rodents in the Suisun Marsh. Grizzly bears that once roamed the marsh are now gone.

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