The watersheds of the Bear and Yuba rivers, in the Sierra Nevada foothills, are initmately linked to California’s history, sense of place, and way of life. Their emblematic grasslands and rolling oak woodlands are rich in plant and animal diversity, provide critical habitat for threatened and endangered species, and host much needed outdoor recreation. The Bear and Yuba Rivers also carry vital water from Sierra Nevada snowmelt to homes and farms across the State.
Harvego Bear River Preserve
Placer County’s Bruin Harvego Bear River Preserve offers the many environmental, economic and scenic benefits these foothills provide. As one of the largest intact oak woodlands ranches in the Sierra Nevada foothills, it was listed as high priority for protection in a 2008 regional conservation assessment. Its 1,773 acres include blue oak woodlands, annual grasslands and rangelands, seasonal wetlands, and riparian corridors – a diversity of available habitat for species of special concern, including the foothill yellow-legged frog, the black rail, and the western pond turtle.
Hikers and other nature lovers can find both excitement and solitude at Harvego Bear River Preserve, only a 20-minute drive from Interstate 80 in Auburn. The ranch’s Bald Rock Mountain offers sweeping views of the High Sierra and the Central Valley, while the property includes nearly three miles of Bear River frontage.
In 2009, The Trust for Public Land, Placer Land Trust, and Bear Yuba Land Trust formed the Northern Sierra Partnership to conserve the waterways, ranchlands, and oak woodlands of the Placer, Nevada, and Yuba county foothills. The conservation of Harvego Bear River Preserve is a cornerstone project in this strategic effort, linking to other conservation properties on both sides of the Bear River and helping to create a north-south wildlife corridor that includes protected lands along Coon Creek, home to some of the last remaining Chinook salmon in Placer County.
Threats to Natural Resources
Located just outside Auburn, Harvego Bear River Preserve was slated for a residential subdivision offering easy access to jobs in Auburn and Sacramento. Given its scenic location along the Bear River in the state’s fastest-growing county, the property was at risk for residential development. The slow-down of the housing market provided the conservation community with one last opportunity to protect this special place and its valuable resources.
The Placer Land Trust and The Trust for Public Land purchased the 1,773-acre Harvego Bear River Preserve in 2010 for 9.5M with primary funding from Placer County and the State of California’s Wildlife Conservation Board. The local community – including the seller, Lloyd Harvego contributed over $1M to the project. Placer Land Trust owns the property and will protect it from development while implementing management strategies that will conserve wildlife habitat, protect riparian areas, promote sustainable agricultural practices, and mitigate for climate change. Eventually, a public trail system would give visitors access to the ranch’s rivers, hills, and other natural features.
As planned, a system of hiking trails will connect Harvego Bear River Preserve to Placer County’s Hidden Falls Regional Park to the south, creating an unparalleled recreational experience in the Sierra Nevada foothills.
Harvego Bear River Preserve Property Facts
Location: Placer County on Bear River, a 20-minute drive from Auburn on Interstate 80
Size: 1,773 acres
Vital water resources and riparian habitat on the Bear River
Wildlife habitat including oak woodlands, annual grasslands, and wetlands
Landscape connections to nearly 6,500 acres of protected lands in Placer and Nevada Counties Recreational opportunities including wildlife viewing and hiking