Big Bear Lake, CA, June 21, 2014 – A favorite scenic spot in Big Bear is the Stanfield Marsh Wildlife and Waterfowl Habitat that extends east from Stanfield Cutoff. Visitors can park in the southwest corner, stop by the wooden gazebo acting as an informational kiosk, then stroll along the water on the wooden walkway. The wooden walkway has a dual purpose: to encourage pedestrians to avoid the highway, and to provide cover for nesting waterfowl. But waterfowl didn’t always have such a haven. In 1982, the Big Bear Municipal Water District (MWD) designated the 145 acre Marsh as a wildlife preserve. Today the many beneficiaries of the project include aquatic species, wetland species, winteríng and breeding waterfowl, wintering bald eagles, Osprey and summer resident and potentially nesting pelicans. The best time of day for people to visit the Preserve for wildlife watching is early morning or late afternoon when the ducks and fish are looking for food.
The Marsh is separated from the main body of the Lake by the highway bridge, and the water flows back and forth between the two bodies of water through the permeable structure under the bridge and three culvert pipes.
Because the Marsh was found to be one of the most manageable sites in the Valley for ecological enhancement, sensitive land acquisition, education, recreation and scenic beauty, a joint project with the Natural Heritage Foundation was approved in 1993 to restore and enhance some of the wetlands.
Dredging created permanently wet basins to protect the wildlife in the area during drought cycles. And in 2003, the MWD finished building a predator-free habitat island by reconfiguring old sewage evaporation pond díkes and surrounding them with a moat. Local students helped plant more than 40,000 indigenous plants for nesting habitat.
The next phase will bring renovating and landscaping the southwest corner, and posting ten new informational placards. The Municipal Water District says the ongoing preservation of the area reminds us of the delicate balance between humans and nature and the need to preserve this habitat for future generations.