A landscape abundant in Yuba treasures and recreation
Yuba Narrows Ranch
Between the confluence with Deer Creek and the open shallow waters of Rose Bar, the Yuba River passes through the steep basaltic canyon known as “The Narrows.” Fast moving, deep, and broken by stretches of treacherous whitewater, the Narrows is currently inaccessible by foot, though trails through the Yuba Narrows Ranch.
The 530-acre Yuba Narrows Ranch includes almost two miles of frontage along the Yuba River, with acres of gravel spawning beds upon which the survival of the Yuba River’s native Chinook salmon population depends. The ranch is traversed by the gold-rush era Miner’s Ditch, which brought water to power some of the region’s earliest hydraulic mining and now provides access for hikers through the Yuba’s steepest and most scenic terrain. The Ranch’s rich blue oak woodlands provide habitat and migration corridors for countless native species.
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife, in concert with the Trust for Public Lands, acquired the Yuba Narrows Ranch in September 2011, ensuring it will be protected in perpetuity as publically accessible open space. The Ranch is expected to be opened to the public in the spring of 2014, following construction of a parking lot and trailhead by the Bear Yuba Land Trust.
Black Swan Ranch
Peregrine falcons spiral above large ponds carved out of towering cliffs from hydraulic diggings surrounded by idyllic oak woodlands, wetlands teeming with waterfowl, turtles, frogs and fish.
Black Swan Ranch is located in western Nevada County along the Lower Yuba River. Bear Yuba Land Trust (BYLT) acquired this land with a $350,000 grant from the CalTrans Environmental Enhancement Mitigation Program to protect habitat connectivity for migrating wildlife, for cultural, and scenic resources, and opportunities for public access to the Lower Yuba River for recreation. Funds were allocated here to mitigate for the destruction of habitat caused by the Highway 20 widening project.
Black Swan is part of a larger conservation project between BYLT, Trust for Public Land (TPL) and California Department of Fish and Game (CDFG) which runs along both sides of the Yuba and Nevada County line, on land that surrounds Smartsville. It includes a 3 mile stretch of the Lower Yuba River, commonly referred to as The Narrows
The entire project comprises nearly 700 acres including the large Yuba Narrows Ranch at the riverfront purchased by TPL and transferred to CDFG earlier this year, and the 158-acre Black Swan Ranch. BYLT has purchased a 50-acre portion of Black Swan that includes the very special aquatic habitat and a public trail easement over the entire ranch. Purchase of the remaining Black Swan Ranch is in process and is expected to be complete early 2013 with funding from California Wildlife Conservation Board. Ultimately the entire landscape will be transferred to CDFG for ownership and management.
Black Swan Ranch includes the historic Black Swan hydraulic diggings – excavated lands that have evolved into naturalized spring-fed ponds providing for rich associated wetlands. This intact wetland is a critical habitat for the endangered Western pond turtle, as well as bass, an array of waterfowl including the American Dipper and Belted Kingfisher. Known endangered species on the properties include Valley Elderberry Longhorn Beetle, Western Burrowing Owl, and Black Rail.
There are traces of the old stagecoach road which ran from Parks Bar, through Sucker Flat and Excelsior, then up Deer Creek to Mooney Flat Road, and from there to the diggings at French Corral. Numerous stone foundations overgrown, with oak and buckeye jut out unexpectedly from the undergrowth, and remain some of the only traces of the community that once spread across this hillside.
Black Swan will provide new recreational benefits with public access along the historic “Miner’s Ditch Trail” which passes through both the Black Swan and Yuba Narrows Ranch, providing miles of trails with breathtaking views along the Yuba River Narrows. BYLT is planning construction of the trail and other public access amenities in 2013. The trail plan will be include accessibility to hikers, mountain bikers, equestrians and will be ADA compliant where the terrain permits. In addition to the ecological benefits, this new trail network with the only public access to this part of the Yuba River for recreationists and tourists is hoped to enable economic development in the area.
Directly across the river is the 5,700-acre UC Sierra Foothill Research Station. This entire conservation corridor links more than 10,000 acres of foothills oak woodlands including CDFG’s Daugherty Hill Preserve allowing for north-south animal migration, watershed protection and iconic golden California landscapes.
Yuba Narrows and Black Swan Ranches are located in far western Nevada County along the Lower Yuba River.
Bear Yuba Land Trust and the California Department of Fish and Game (CDFG) are working together to conserve this area as part of a larger conservation project.
The area includes pristine oak woodlands, ponds, and wetland habitat.
The area provides habitat connectivity, permanent protection of the multiple natural, cultural, and scenic resources, and opportunities for public access for recreation.