Under the supervision of owners Benjamin and Dorothy Tucker, the 12-acre Tucker Wildlife Sanctuary in Orange County started life as a hummingbird-feeding waystation in 1929. As more people came to see the “hummingbird cafeteria,” Mr. and Mrs. Tucker decided to create a dedicated sanctuary. Buildings, shops and trails were added and the public responded enthusiastically.
Having worked closely with San Fernando Valley Audubon during the sanctuary’s initial growth period, the Tuckers deeded the property to SFVAS in 1941, a legacy conditioned on perpetual maintenance of the property as a wildlife sanctuary.
In 1968, SFVAS gave title to the property to nearby Cal State Fullerton for use as an educational facility as well as the already-existing public attraction. For many years, CSF honored the conditions of their stewardship, and by last year the property featured a natural history museum, bird feeders, a small amphitheater, picnic areas and a gift shop.
In January of this year we were notified by Cal State Fullerton that they no longer wished to own and maintain the Tucker Wildlife Sanctuary. Under the terms of our deed to CSF, this meant the property would revert to SFVAS. Population growth and the general chaos of modern life put the sanctuary, tucked into Modjeska Canyon and adjacent to Cleveland National Forest, impractically out-of-reach; SFVAS needed to find a local entity prepared to take on the responsibility of preserving Benjamin and Dorothy Tucker’s original legacy, in keeping with the values expressed in our chapter’s mission statement.
Fortunately, a committee tasked to connect with possible grantees located the right fit: Environmental Nature Center located in Irvine. ENC has demonstrated that they appreciate the property and understand that the location offers an opportunity as an education site. They are committed to thoughtful stewardship of the property, and will continue to have a relationship with the neighborhood in which the sanctuary is located.
We are now in escrow to finalize the transaction. The Environmental Nature Center will keep our chapter informed regarding the changes that take place on the property and the progress of their educational programming. The board is very relieved to have found the perfect conservation organization to step into our shoes, one that we believe will honor the Tucker Family’s original intent.