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California

Gray Davis / Dye Creek Preserve


Located in the foothills below Mount Lassen, the 37,540-acre Gray Davis Dye Creek Preserve is an expansive landscape of blue oak woodlands, volcanic buttes, and rolling wildflower fields. The landscape is dissected dramatically by Dye Creek Canyon with its vertical cliffs, clear-water creek, and diverse riparian forests. The forest widens as it leaves the canyon mouth and flows westward, through wetlands, to its confluence with the Sacramento River.

Location

North-central California, about halfway between Redding and Chico, just east of Interstate 5.

Size

37,540 acres

Why the Conservancy Selected This Site

Dye Creek lies in the heart of the Lassen Foothills region, a largely unfragmented 900,000-acre landscape, where the Conservancy is actively engaged in community-based conservation efforts. The land serves as a site for the research, development and demonstration of ecological management and restoration techniques, such as prescribed burning. Research and development efforts are conducted in the context of a working ranch, so that methods that are successfully developed may be applied on privately owned ranches.

What the Conservancy Has Done/Is Doing

The Dye Creek Ranch came under the management of The Nature Conservancy in 1987 as the result of a 25-year lease with the State of California. The Conservancy has continued to operate the land as a working ranch, leasing grazing rights to a private rancher who manages his cattle with an eye to the health of the environment. Results have been encouraging, and the ranch was named one of the 25 best-managed ranches in the U.S. by a leading livestock publication. The land also functions as a nature preserve and an outdoor classroom and laboratory, promoting cooperative conservation, restoration and community outreach activities.

The preserve's research with grazing and prescribed burning are aimed at maintaining and increasing the diversity of grassland plant and animal communities by discouraging invasive non-native plants. Research at the ranch has demonstrated that controlled burning effectively controls medusa-head and star-thistle, both troublesome, invasive weeds. Conservancy staff, students, and volunteers have also completed an intensive effort to restore streamside habitats along lower Dye Creek. Trees, shrubs and native grasses have been planted and the positive effects of this restoration program are beginning to be recorded. Conservancy staff and researchers are working to secure a large population of foothill yellow-legged frogs in upper Dye Creek.

 

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