Campus: CSU Chico -- October 10, 2001

Large Parcel Added to Big Chico Creek Ecological Preserve

The Big Chico Creek Ecological Preserve will be increased by 1,226 acres thanks to the continuing partnership of regional, state and local organizations.

The Research Foundation of California State University, Chico, which operates the preserve, purchased the new acreage Sept. 27 from The River Conservancy, a program of River Network, an Oregon-based conservation group. The River Network had acquired the property from former owner Jack Henning with the intent to add it to the ecological preserve.

The acquisition brings the size of the preserve to 3,950 acres. The preserve, a rich riparian and upland habitat for fish and wildlife, is located approximately 10 miles northeast of Chico near Bidwell Park.

The cost of the new acreage was $3.46 million. A number of entities contributed to the funding for the purchase, including $1.73 million from the California Wildlife Conservation Board, a division of the California Department of Fish & Game; $630,000 from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation of Los Altos, Calif.; $300,000 from the National Fish and Wildlife Federation; and $100,000 from the California Deer Association. Henning and The River Network also made substantial contributions to ensure that the acreage was added to the preserve.

"The preserve is going to be one of the most outstanding riparian conservation areas in California, and a tremendous resource for fish, wildlife and the community," said Phillip Wallin, director of the River Conservancy program.

"There will be wonderful educational and research opportunities at the preserve, thanks to the contributions of many interested and committed parties," said Ken Derucher, dean of CSU, Chico's College of Engineering, Computer Science and Technology, who oversaw fund raising for the property acquisition. "Faculty, students and community members will reap the benefits of this 'living laboratory.'"

The original preserve property was acquired from former owners Dan Drake and Darwin and Ed Simmons in August 2000. The preserve was dedicated in October of last year.

The preserve is home to more than 140 identified species, such as black-tailed deer and mountain lion. It will also provide protected habitat for Chinook salmon and steelhead trout, listed as "threatened" under the Endangered Species Act.

Usage of the preserve will be discussed by a technical advisory committee and citizen's advisory committee, which will recommend action to the Research Foundation. With its gift the Wildlife Conservation Board required that there be limited fishing and hunting in the preserve. For the coming year, no hunting will occur on the former Henning property but will be permitted on the former Simmons Ranch. Hunting and fishing that does occur during the year will be monitored, and changes will be made at the end of the first year if necessary.

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