Rush Ranch: A Solano County gem

[caption id="attachment_1421" align="alignnone" width="2048"]This beautiful photo highlights the newest addition to Rush Ranch, the new foal, Ember, at just one day old. Photo by Tom Muehleisen This beautiful photo highlights the newest addition to Rush Ranch, the new foal, Ember, at just one day old. Photo by Tom Muehleisen [/caption]

"Rush Ranch Wins Hearts."

That could be the headline for any story about Rush Ranch. Whether you're a child or an adult, a hiker, birdwatcher, biologist, teacher, photographer, poet or painter, or just out for a picnic, this Solano Land Trust jewel will win you over.

Rising out of the northeast edge of the Suisun Marsh, Rush Ranch stretches across 2,070 acres of marsh and rolling grassland. Purchased in 1988 by Solano Land Trust, Rush Ranch provides recreational and educational opportunities to thousands of visitors each year. The Ranch, with its historical buildings and self-guided trails, is located approximately two miles south of Highway 12 on Grizzly Island Road.

Within the property’s boundaries is one of the best remaining examples of a brackish tidal marsh habitat in the United States. What’s special about a brackish tidal marsh? It is an important habitat for fish, bird and plant species. The habitat at Rush Ranch is exceptionally rich in vegetation and wildlife, supporting more than 200 species and 47 families of plants, 15 mammal species and 230 bird species. Many of these are threatened and/or endangered; such as the salt marsh harvest mouse, Suisun ornate shrew, Delta smelt, Sacramento splittail, giant garter snake, California clapper rail, California black rail, Suisun song sparrow, and the American white pelican. This unique environment has made Rush Ranch a popular destination with families, scouting and school groups, hikers, bird enthusiasts, scientists, naturalists, photographers and artists.

[caption id="attachment_1388" align="alignnone" width="2048"]Beautiful sunset at Rush Ranch captured by Tom Muehleisen Beautiful sunset at Rush Ranch captured by Tom Muehleisen[/caption]

Ongoing activities at the ranch give guests the opportunity to get a closer look at the unique habitat of the marsh and its inhabitants through docent guided interpretive hikes, blacksmithing demonstrations, astronomer led stargazing events, or the personal interpretation gained while enjoying a self-guided hike on one or more of three trails.

History buffs might enjoy the opportunity to get an up close and personal glimpse into a day in the life of a blacksmith by visiting the historic blacksmith shop and speaking with Virgil Sellers, a docent, resident historian, and volunteer with the Rush Ranch Educational Council.

A particularly unique, and must-see, component of the ranch is the Visitor Center. As one might expect it contains natural and historical exhibits, trail guides, and informational brochures; however, more unexpectedly is that it's housed in a Sears Roebuck & Co. kit house. Ordered from the Sears catalog by the Rush family in 1932, it was delivered to the ranch on flatbed trucks and "assembled" at the very spot it stands today.

[caption id="attachment_1210" align="alignnone" width="960"]Full Harvest Moon at Rush Ranch captured by Tom Muehleisen Full Harvest Moon at Rush Ranch captured by Tom Muehleisen[/caption]

Other areas quite popular with most guests are the old farm equipment graveyard and the native plant garden. New plant identification signs have recently been installed in the garden and if any one is interested in learning a bit more about the antique farm equipment on display in the "boneyard" should seek out Virgil. He can be found at the ranch several days a week working on various projects in and around the barn area.

Admission to the ranch is free, as is participation in ongoing activities.

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