Photo: Stuart Allen's Lake Berryessa Line

The Putah-Cache Bioregion Project:

The Blue Ridge Berryessa Natural Area Conservation Partnership

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The Blue Ridge Berryessa Natural Area (BRBNA) focuses on Blue Ridge and the lands to the east and west of the ridge, down to the Capay Valley on the east side and over towards Coyote, Long, and Pope valleys on the west. It stretches from Monticello Dam in the south to the area north of Highway 20 between Williams and Clear Lake. Straddling the ancient contact between the rocks of the continental and Pacific tectonic plates, the area's diverse geology supports a unique assemblage of ecological communities including serpentine chaparral, grasslands, oak woodlands, and extensive riparian and cliff habitats.

Wildlife abounds. The area is sufficiently large and remote to support tule elk, bald and golden eagles, mountain lions and bears, as well as diverse songbirds, raptors, amphibians, reptiles and fish. The serpentine soils of the region host a large number of indigenous and rare plants, while Cache and Putah Creeks, along with their tributaries and the region's lakes, provide abundant fisheries.

The mission of the Blue Ridge Berryessa Natural Area Conservation Partnership is to cooperatively manage and enhance the BRBNA, using the principles of ecosystem management, local administration and self-sufficient funding, to protect natural and cultural values while promoting a compatible level of public use and fully respecting private property rights.

The Conservation Partnership is a voluntary partnership of private landowners, public agencies, regional non-profit organizations, and local and county governments. It has been working since 1997 to explore innovative, collaborative means of resource management and habitat conservation.

Bioregion project participants (Rob Thayer, David Robertson, and Dennis Pendleton), Susan Harrison (NRS Coordinator), and Sid England (campus environmental planner), have been representing the University in 1) developing environmental design and planning proposals for sites in the region through students in campus design courses, 2) engaging artists and writers in bioregional residence in creative activity in the area, 3) providing specific advice, consultation and applied research on resource management issues in the region, including management of troublesome exotic species such as yellow star thistle and tamarisk.

We have also assisted in gaining funding to further the partnership. Two specialists are being hired through the project to develop: 1) a natural resources assessment and basis for a GIS framework, and 2) an economic feasibility/business plan analysis designed to yield information on ways in which to provide financial support for the future activities of the partnership.

PCBR also joined with other members of the BRBNA to produce a month-long festival celebrating the BRBNA, which included hikes, wildflower tours, an open house at the McLaughlin Reserve, and the Guenoc Watershed Arts Festival, among other activities.

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