UC receives PG&E land to expand research in Sierra foothills

Jan 30, 2015

Pacific Gas and Electric Company has donated 41 acres in Yuba County to the University of California as part of its land conservation commitment. The donation of the Narrows Unit to benefit UC's Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources was made in coordination with the Pacific Forest and Watershed Lands Stewardship Council (Stewardship Council), which was created as part of PG&E's 2003 bankruptcy settlement.

The parcel, which is adjacent to the UC Sierra Foothill Research and Extension Center in Browns Valley, will be managed by UC to protect its natural resources. Bear Yuba Land Trust will hold the conservation easement on the Narrows property to ensure that it remains permanently protected and available for public benefit. The transaction closed today (Jan. 29).

Located on the Yuba River, the Narrows property is 60 miles northeast of Sacramento. UC Sierra Foothill Research and Extension Center has more than 5,700 acres of rangeland for scientists to study critical rangeland issues.

“We are excited to be able to manage this parcel because this new property will increase the size and connectivity between key research pastures at Sierra Foothill Research and Extension Center,” said Jeremy James, Sierra Foothill Research and Extension Center director.

Cattle grazing is a major tool to manage vegetation on rangelands and to enhance rangeland ecosystems. Although the Narrows land is too steep for grazing, it can be used to study a suite of critical natural resource processes.

“This is the first of several land transfers from PG&E to a public agency in the Yuba River watershed and the only in Yuba County,” said Marty Coleman-Hunt, Bear Yuba Land Trust executive director. “It's the culmination of over a decade of planning and work with local conservation groups and the Stewardship Council. The permanent protection of this land below Englebright Dam is critical for the health of the important Yuba River salmon fishery and public recreation for the lower Yuba River.”

“In partnership with the many organizations that make up the Stewardship Council, PG&E is pleased to permanently protect the natural resources and beauty of the Narrows parcel and watershed lands associated with our hydroelectric system for the benefit of current and future generations,” said Mike Schonherr, manager of PG&E's Land Conservation Commitment Department.

The research center encompasses river, grassland, oak woodland and riparian habitat types for studying beef cattle production, nutrition and health, rangeland water quality management, oak woodland restoration, native plant conservation and invasive plant management as well as monitoring and management of sensitive fish and wildlife species. 

The center has many educational features including a series of nature trails and an education center on the Yuba River, which can be used by schools and community groups for outdoor education and outreach events.

Bear Yuba Land Trust is a non-profit, membership-supported group that promotes voluntary conservation of natural, historical and agricultural resources in the Bear and Yuba watersheds of the Sierra Nevada foothills. Each year, BYLT's stewardship team will monitor the conservation easement at the Narrows for conservation values like documenting the presence of native plants and animals. BYLT will hold the development rights forever, meaning the land will be permanently protected as a natural place and remain undeveloped.

For more information about PG&E's transfer of the Narrows property, visit http://www.stewardshipcouncil.org/land_conservation/planning_units/narrows.htm.

For more information about the UC Sierra Foothill Research and Extension Center, please visit http://sfrec.ucanr.edu.


For more than 100 years, University of California Cooperative Extension researchers and educators have been drawing on local expertise to conduct agricultural, environmental, economic, youth development and nutrition research that helps California thrive. UC Cooperative Extension is part of the University of California's systemwide Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources. Learn more at ucanr.edu.

By Pamela Kan-Rice
Author - Assistant Director, News and Information Outreach