Located on a precipitous peninsula in one of the driest parts of the northern Coast Ranges, the Quail Ridge Reserve projects into Lake Berryessa and holds outstanding remnants of extremely rare native grassland, savanna, and oak woodland habitats. The near-pristine understory is relatively free of introduced annuals and includes remaining strongholds of native grasses, including purple needlegrass, junegrass, California oniongrass, and California fescue. These native grasses are a remnant of a savanna that once covered an area the size of Nevada. The woodlands harbor a diverse mix of oak species, such as valley, interior live, blue, black, and scrub oak along with numerous hybrids, including oracle oak.
High and rugged Quail Ridge (formerly Wragg Ridge) first became a peninsula in 1958 with the flooding of Lake Berryessa after construction of the Monticello Dam. The consequent isolation of the ridge, now a peninsula, is in large part what has kept the habitat relatively uninvaded by weeds. Together with two other NRS sites, McLaughlin Natural Reserve and Stebbins Cold Canyon Reserve, plus UC Davis’s Putah Creek Campus Reserve, Quail Ridge represent an important link in a series of protected lands in the Putah Creek watershed.
Site visits by university courses in wildlife field techniques, California insect diversity, geology field studies, botany, and others.
Volunteers from Quail Ridge Wilderness Conservancy offer interpretive walks and environmental education programs for local elementary and secondary schools.
- Floral studies include effects of grazing on the evolution of plant life history; pollen loads in Clarkia unguiculata; and spatial segregation of coyote brush.
- Biological surveys of butterflies, rodents, reptiles, and amphibians.
- Ringtail home range, territory size, and density in foothill woodlands.
- Studies of wild turkey populations.
- Lyme disease studies.
John Muir Institute of the Environment/NRS
The Barn, UC Davis
Davis, CA 95616
Quail Ridge Reserve website
Napa County, on a southern peninsula of Lake Berryessa; 45 minute drive from the Davis campus.
Several overnight options are available for small groups or solo researchers. The field station includes a laboratory/workspace. Camping areas are available for class use.
The reserve bibliography includes citations of journal articles, books, theses, art, and other works published about or based on activities conducted at the reserve.
Natural history handbook with species lists; meteorological; GIS layers; herpetological arrays.
Resident reserve director
1,010 hectares (2,500 acres)
134 to 462 m (440 to 1,516 ft.)
62 cm (24 in.) per year.
January: 8 ºC (46 ºF)
July: 28 ºC (82 ºF)