Bear Yuba Land Trust to Save 3,000 Acres of Connected Land
Bear Yuba Land Trust has successfully completed the acquisition of Garden Bar Preserve, a 652-acre cattle ranch on the Bear River in Nevada County. BYLT received grant funding from the California Wildlife Conservation Board ($1.45m) for the purchase of the land, and Sierra Nevada Conservancy ($68k) for surveys and management planning. We’ve also received about $50k in local donations to help manage this land long term.
Garden Bar Preserve is now a permanent working ranch including oak woodlands and grasslands, with over two miles of Bear River frontage. The views from the property are spectacular and the diverse wildlife on the property is amazing.
What makes Garden Bar Preserve so unique – in addition to its size and resources – is its location. Bear Yuba Land Trust, The Trust for Public Land and Placer Land Trust created the Northern Foothills Partnership in 2009 to strategically connect and protect the most important landscapes in the foothills of the Bear and Yuba rivers. This includes lands owned by a land trust or Bureau of Land Management, interspersed with private non-conserved parcels.
Garden Bar Preserve is the parcel that connects all of them, allowing continuity of a 9,000-acre conserved landscape on both sides of the Bear River including Little Wolf Creek and Coon Creek watersheds. This represents 6 linear miles of Bear River (east/west, down slope/upslope) and 9 linear miles of oak woodland foothills (north/south). This increases the potential for water quality protection, species migration, and recreation.
The intact oak woodland addresses climate change, reduce soil erosion and sustain water quality. It provides habitat for a wide range of terrestrial and aquatic species. It is BYLT’s objective to improve and ensure the healthy functioning of these natural systems.
The land has cattle grazing currently but it is not performing the ecological potential that it could. Common invasives in the region, such as Himalayan blackberry and yellow starthistle are well established. Medusahead has a strong foothold in open areas. BYLT will join neighbors in grazing with a common cattleman to reduce fire danger and encourage grassland biodiversity.
Little Wolf Creek is suitable habitat for the threatened Western Black Rail which has been sighted in the area. Restoring the wetland and adjacent floodplain will expand habitat for this bird as well as many other migratory and resident animals.
Both the Nisenan and Maidu tribes have inspected and documented prehistoric Native American sites on the property. Both tribes have expressed great interest in the preservation and interpretation of these sites.
The Garden Bar property also encompasses an important part of the Emigrant Trail and the main crossing of the Bear River for pioneers coming over Donner Pass into central California. BYLT plans to develop this site with trails for public access and make it available to the public for the interpretation of an important and significant part of California history.
Garden Bar Preserve in southern Nevada County is within the Spenceville Conservation
Area Protection Plan (CAPP). The site has a two-mile stretch of riverfront and includes two miles of ephemeral and perennial drainages, all flowing toward the Bear River.
The intact, healthy, oak woodland serves beneficial ecological functions like reducing soil erosion and sustaining water quality. This riparian zone provides habitat for a wide range of species while also filtering excessive nutrients and other pollutants before the water reaches the stream.