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 (Quercus lobata) studded its fertile floodplains.
But the rich riverbottom soil that nourished the oaks was also coveted by 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 floodplain is a haven for tens of thousands of migratory waterfowl, songbirds, and raptors, for a large portion of the Central Valley's population of greater sandhill cranes, and for rare reptiles and mammals like the endangered giant garter snake and the elusive river otter. Chinook salmon and Pacific lamprey still swim upstream to spawn, and native Delta fish breed and rear in the shallow waters of the wetlands.
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.
In 1988, Ducks Unlimited, the leading non-profit wetlands conservation organization in the U.S., joined as a partner in the project. The joint goal was to protect and restore two natural communities once abundant, but now rare in California: valley oak riparian forest and freshwater seasonal wetlands.
The Preserve has expanded through the efforts of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, which joined the project as a partner in 1988 with the purchase of 150 acres of wetlands.
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.
Sacramento County Department of Regional Parks officially became a partner in spring of 1993, with the purchase of 600 acres of prime river bottom land.
The California Department of Water Resources officially became a partner in 1996, with the purchase of agricultural land.
Cosumnes River Preserve * 13501 Franklin Blvd. Galt CA 95632