The Cosumnes River Preserve consists of over 50,000 acres of wildlife habitat and agricultural lands owned by seven land-owning Partners. The Partners include The Nature Conservancy, Bureau of Land Management, California Department of Fish & Wildlife, Sacramento County Regional Parks, Department of Water Resources, Ducks Unlimited, and the California State Lands Commission. The Preserve is centered along the Cosumnes River, its floodplains and riparian habitat. This habitat is buffered by a variety of agricultural operations. The Preserve provides numerous social, economic, and recreational benefits to local communities and to people residing in the larger Sacramento and San Joaquin areas. The habitat supports wildlife, including birds that migrate throughout the Pacific Flyway.
The Cosumnes River Preserve Partners envision the permanent protection of a continuous riparian corridor extending from the Cosumnes headwaters to the Delta, including adjacent floodplain and wetland habitats and a vast vernal pool grassland complex supporting endangered species. The Partners will utilize stewardship and compatible ranching and farming activities as methods to sustain native plant and wildlife communities and the processes that perpetuate a dynamic mosaic of habitats. We will provide opportunities for people of all ages to appreciate the flora and fauna of the Cosumnes River Preserve and to experience being part of a natural landscape.
The Central Valley once contained one of the largest expanses of streamside forest and wetland habitat in North America. Along with cottonwoods, willows, ash, and other flood-resistant trees, great forests of valley oaks studded its fertile floodplains. But the rich riverbottom soil that nourished the oaks was also coveted by private farmers who cleared most of the land. Today, only tiny remnants of these magnificent oak groves are to be found in the Central Valley. Along the lower Cosumnes, small but significant stands of valley oaks have survived. These groves cover some 1,500 acres, and along with the remaining riverside forests and wetlands, they provide habitat for the wildlife that still flourishes here. The Cosumnes River Preserve is a project aiming to preserve 46,000 acres of this historic land in its natural state. We seek to protect and enhance the habitat within the Cosumnes River Preserve project area, including riparian forest, wetland, vernal pool grassland, oak woodland, riverine, marsh, and farm habitat, in order to preserve biodiversity and benefit declining, threatened, and endangered species of wildlife and plants. We attempt to accomplish this using a cooperative management approach by developing both short- and long-term integrated conservation and management projects, as well as supporting policies compatible with our goals. We believe that effective conservation integrates the preservation of natural lands as well as agricultural lands and practices.
The Nature Conservancy, an international non-profit conservation organization dedicated to the preservation of biodiversity since 1951, first became active in south Sacramento County in 1984. The organization purchased a conservation easement on 85 acres of valley oak riparian forest. In 1987, with the acquisition of more than 1,400 additional acres, the Conservancy officially established the Cosumnes River Preserve. Since then, the Preserve has grown with the aid of our many supporters. Ducks Unlimited, the leading non-profit wetlands conservation organization in the U.S., joined as a partner in 1988, along with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. The California Department of Fish & Game, working with the Wildlife Conservation Board, joined as partners in 1990 by purchasing 840 acres of valley oak woodland and seasonal sloughs, followed shortly by the Sacramento County Department of Regional Parks in 1993. The California Department of Water Resources officially became a partner in 1996, with the purchase of agricultural land.