The Vina Plains is an excellent example of California annual grasslands and vernal pools on the upper terrace of the Sacramento Valley. The shallow soils are underlain by an impervious, rocky hardpan formed by volcanic mudflows a million or more years ago. Subsequent erosion has scoured out shallow depressions that fill with water during the rainy season. Because of the impermeable subsoil, the water remains until it is lost by evaporation late in the spring. These temporary ponds support a wide variety of plants, crustaceans, snails, flatworms, and insects. During winter the ponds attract legions of waterfowl and shorebirds. Songbirds such as meadowlarks and horned larks nest in the grasslands and raptors can be viewed hunting overhead.
Why TNC Selected This Site
The Vina Plains vernal pools are some of the best remaining in California. Although once common in the Central Valley and other parts of the state, vernal pools have been reduced to less than 5% of their original range and are now one of California's most threatened natural communities.
What TNC Has Done/Is Doing
Vina Plains is a key property in The Nature Conservancy's Lassen Foothills Project. Vina Plains forms the western boundary of the project, which includes large connected grasslands, wildflower fields, oak woodlands, streamside forests, and native fisheries. The Lassen Foothills project area features some of the state's best remaining salmon runs and is home to the largest herd of migratory deer in California. Vina Plains is utilized by TNC as an important research site to gain information about how to manage grasslands facing invasion by non-native weed species.