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Craig Sink, Dana Point   

We live in the hills above the San Juan Creek near the Harbor. Last month a wild mallard hen walked into our garage through an open door. She had 11 young ducklings in tow and she appeared to be stressed. She must have been stressed to approach one of her natural predators; humans. The indigenous Indians, who lived along San Juan Creek before the Spaniards arrived, tied stones to woven nets so as to cast the nets over the ducks to catch them. They also fished and took turtles from the creek. You can see artist’s renditions of this at the Mission San Juan Capistrano. My guess was that our visitors were the decedents of the ducks that Indians had hunted for hundreds, if not, thousands of years.

We didn’t try to eat our visiting ducks but we fed them instead. They stayed in our backyard for four days with mother duck flying down to the San Juan Creek daily. She would fly back up after a few hours and stay the night. On the third day she returned with a drake and on the fourth day she led her ducklings down to the San Juan Creek on foot, across Del Obispo Street!

I’m pleased that wild ducks still return to the San Juan Creek and nest in the hills above it, but I’m saddened and disappointed that the water quality in the creek is so poor. It doesn’t have to be that way. In the May 19-25, 2017 issue of Dana Point Times there was mention that “at Salt Creek, the city operates an ozone treatment facility that treats dry weather flows at the outlet for bacteria and potential pathogens” and that “the city has made vast improvements in water quality.” The dry weather water in the San Juan Creek could be treated too. We may have to treat further upstream to benefit wildlife but that is do-able on a regional basis, with other cities and perhaps the County of Orange participating.  Improvements in the environment improve our lives and the lives of future generations. It’s worth the effort to clean up our creeks and streams.

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