In 2021, Land Trust of Napa County celebrates its 45th Anniversary.
To honor all of the landowners, donors and volunteers who have helped the Land Trust protect 86,000 acres across Napa, they shared pictures of recent highlights from the last few years.
“We’d also like to extend a warm thanks to all of our supporters over the years, especially those who’ve continued their generosity during the pandemic,” the organization wrote in a press release.
1.The largest project
In 2017, Land Trust of Napa County completed protection of more than 7,000 acres around Mount St. Helena, the largest conservation project ever completed in the Land Trust’s 45-year history. The 7,260-acre conservation easement added to Robert Louis Stevenson State Park and other protected lands to create 22,000 acres of contiguous protected land.
2. Prescribed burns
Over the last few years, Land Trust has completed several controlled burns in partnership with CAL FIRE. These projects reduce fuel loads and invasive species, while facilitating the recovery of native wildflowers. After the controlled burn and the spring rains, the native wildflowers can begin to compete against the invasive grasses that were burned away.
3. Pacific Union College’s forest conservation
In late 2018, Pacific Union College worked with the Land Trust of Napa County and CAL FIRE to establish a conservation easement on 864 acres of heavily forested land. The PUC Forest supports significant wildlife habitats and rare plants, provides a major wildlife corridor between other conserved areas and protects the upper reaches of Moore Creek, a key source of water for Lake Hennessey, the main water supply for the City of Napa.
4. Wantrup Preserve
Sheep graze dry plant material on the Land Trust of Napa County’s Wantrup Preserve 18 days before the LNU Lightning Complex fires started last year. Like properties across Napa, the preserve’s 730 acres of oak woodlands can experience a heavy buildup of invasive weed thatch, which can overwhelm native plants and create fine fuel loads for wildfires.
Since 2017, the Land Trust has used goats and sheep to strategically graze the area. The approach was tested in the LNU fire, when the fire advanced from a neighboring property, but when it hit the grazed area on Land Trust land, it died down and was easily extinguished.
5. Wagg Ridge
In 2018, Land Trust of Napa County acquired its second-largest preserve, Wragg Ridge. The 1,910-acre preserve near Lake Berryessa contains extensive oak woodlands and wetlands that provide habitat for rare species, including the federally listed California Red-legged Frog.
6. Redwood Research
A team of researchers from Humboldt State University studied an isolated grove of redwoods on Land Trust preserve land in 2016. These redwoods are the most interior old growth redwoods in the species’ range.
The team began an ongoing research project to learn about the success of this stand at this site, which is relatively hot and dry for redwoods. As part of this research, the oldest tree was found to be 800 years old, probably the oldest living organism in Napa County.
Since 2017, the Land Trust has been using an array of motion-activated cameras deployed across nearly 5,000 acres to gain a better understanding of wildlife and their movements.
With three years of data cataloged and analyzed, the Wildlife Picture Index Project has yielded some exciting results.
“In addition to showing healthy levels of overall mammal diversity, this initial data indicates that we have the highest numbers of black bear in the Bay Area,” said Land Trust Stewardship program manager Mike Palladini.
8. Berryessa Ranches
Over the last five years, the Land Trust worked with ranchers to complete six separate conservation easements next to Lake Berryessa. In total, the easements protected over 12,800 contiguous acres, including most of the land rising above the lake along the entire length of its ten-mile-long eastern shore. These easements ensure the future of open space and sustainable ranching in the area.
9. Sattui’s donation
Dario Sattui donated an easement to the Land Trust over this property in the hills above the city of Napa. The easement eliminated the potential for houses and a winery, protecting scenic views, agriculture and natural values. The easement protects oak woodlands and Kreuse Creek on a property adjacent to Skyline Wilderness Park.
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