Stebbins Cold Canyon Reserve expands

Stebbins Cold Canyon expands
Nearly 500 acres of oak woodlands and chaparral communities abutting Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument will be incorporated into UC Davis’ Stebbins Cold Canyon Natural Reserve following a land transfer from Land Trust of Napa County. Image: courtesy Land Trust of Napa County

By Land Trust of Napa County/UC Davis News and Media Relations

Nearly 500 acres of the California Coast Range’s signature oak woodlands and chaparral communities will be incorporated into the Stebbins Cold Canyon Reserve under a transfer between the Land Trust of Napa County and the University of California, Davis.

Stebbins Cold Canyon Reserve is a premier destination for outdoor enthusiasts. Annually, over 65,000 visitors enjoy hiking the reserve’s trail system, with its eagle-eye views of Lake Berryessa and spectacular displays of wildflowers. The addition of these properties complements existing uses by providing a protected area of the reserve dedicated to research and instruction.

The Land Trust of Napa County purchased the property in 2020 with the intention of adding it to the UC Davis Natural Reserves.

“We’re pleased to assist in adding this beautiful property to the Stebbins Cold Canyon Reserve,” said Doug Parker, CEO of the land trust. “With this latest acquisition, the Stebbins reserve will include over 1,100 acres, adding to an important site for research into the area’s natural values.”

Stebbins Cold Canyon expands
A lupine rises above the grass at Stebbins Cold Canyon Reserve, part of the UC Davis Natural Reserve System. Image: Chris Nicolini/UC Davi

History of partnership

A long history of partnership between the land trust and UC Davis has preserved roughly 7,600 acres of land that have been included in the Quail Ridge and McLaughlin natural reserves. Stebbins, Quail Ridge, and McLaughlin reserves are three of the 41 reserves in the UC Natural Reserve System.

“This relationship is a win-win for both of us,” said Shane Waddell, associate director of the UC Davis Natural Reserves. “The land trust forever protects the land, and the university facilitates research, provides hands-on learning opportunities for students and manages the natural resources to enhance native flora and fauna.”

The importance of conservation of California’s lands and biodiversity has been recently highlighted by the state’s 30×30 initiative committing to protect 30% of California’s lands and coastal waters by 2030. This property protects extensive oak woodlands and chaparral communities, which dominate the California Coast Ranges and provide habitat corridors for wildlife.

Stebbins Cold Canyon expands
A mountain view of Stebbins Cold Canyon Natural Reserve in April 2022. Image: Kat Kerlin/UC Davis

A model ecosystem

“These lands are representative of a large area of California and provide a model ecosystem for researchers to study impacts of climate change, drought and wildfires affecting the entire state,” said Waddell.

The property abuts Stebbins Cold Canyon Reserve and Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument. It is embedded in a larger landscape of protected lands, including the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Putah Creek Wildlife Area, the local non-profit Tuleyome and the Bureau of Reclamation at Lake Berryessa.

“The acquisition dovetails nicely with larger area goals for community engagement, enhanced recreational opportunities, education and interpretation that the reserve is coordinating with partner agencies and organizations,” said Paul Havemann, Stebbins Cold Canyon Reserve manager.

The land trust retained a conservation easement over the property. This provides a double layer of protection, further ensuring protection of the property’s natural values in perpetuity. The Napa Open Space District assisted in this land transfer.

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