History of Audubon Canyon Ranch
Audubon Canyon Ranch was founded in 1962 to save one of the largest heronries on the west coast and to prevent intensive commercial development in the pristine area surrounding the colony.
Great Blue Herons and Great Egrets are the largest of California\'s wading birds, with up to six-foot wingspans. Years ago, there were dozens of colonies of egrets nesting in the tops of trees around San Francisco Bay. They gradually disappeared as trees were cut down and their tideland feeding grounds were filled.
Despite logging of old growth redwood during the period following the California Gold Rush, the heronry along Bolinas Lagoon in Marin County existed in 1960 in relative isolation. Bolinas Lagoon is a small saltwater estuary and is a wintering and feeding ground for these birds. In 1961, the federal government had no plans to preserve this unspoiled estuary, nor its \"sister\" to the north -- Tomales Bay.
At that time, Marin\'s political climate was pro-growth. The 503-acre dairy ranch, which is now part of ACR\'s 1000-acre Bolinas Lagoon Preserve, was already being subdivided for development. The redwood grove where herons and egrets nest was to be logged. The lagoon where they feed was to be dredged and developed as a marina, and a 4 lane freeway was to be built between the nesting site and feeding ground.
As president of the Marin Audubon Society, Dr. Martin Griffin, Jr. met with the owner of the property known as \"Canyon Ranch\" which included the nesting grove of redwood trees. Marin Audubon Society\'s objective was to investigate purchasing the property. With the help of many dedicated individuals and the other local Audubon Society chapters, an amazing fundraising campaign was waged to successfully complete the purchase. Audubon Canyon Ranch was created as an independent, non-profit organization. The word \"Audubon\" is in the title but we are not officially associated with the National Audubon Society, nor are we a membership organization like local Audubon Chapters.
Protecting the birds\' feeding ground from dredging and development was also important for the survival of the nesting colony. Therefore, Audubon Canyon Ranch was instrumental in protecting Kent Island and the Bolinas Lagoon from proposed commercial development.
In the early days of the organization, protecting the beautiful areas of West Marin from development had been a primary interest. Subsequently, Audubon Canyon Ranch began acquiring lands along Tomales Bay in addition to its 1,000 acres adjacent to Bolinas Lagoon.
In 1971, Clifford Conly promised to give his beloved Cypress Grove to Audubon Canyon Ranch. He was impressed by ACR\'s efforts to protect important tidelands along Tomales Bay. In 1992, Mr. Conly completed his gift and Cypress Grove Research Center became a headquarters for Audubon Canyon Ranch\'s conservation science and habitat protection programs.
In 1979, David Bouverie donated a large land holding, which would become the 570 acres of unspoiled wildlands now known as the Bouverie Preserve in Sonoma County\'s Valley of the Moon. David Bouverie was enthusiastic about Audubon Canyon Ranch\'s education programs and wanted his lands to be used to educate and inspire children to appreciate nature. An education program reflecting that vision is conducted at Bouverie Preserve. The general public is welcome to visit Bouverie Preserve, known for its wildflowers, oak woodlands and creek canyon, through Guided Nature Walks scheduled on selected Saturdays throughout the year.
Egret, Audubon Canyon Ranch, Bolinas Lagoon, Stinson Beach