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Canebrake Ecological Reserve

Map of Canebrake Reserve and the South Fork Valley.
Location Kern County, California
Nearest city Ridgecrest
Coordinates 35°43′40″N 118°10′26″W / 35.72778°N 118.17389°W / 35.72778; -118.17389Coordinates: 35°43′40″N 118°10′26″W / 35.72778°N 118.17389°W / 35.72778; -118.17389 [1]
Area 6,700 acres
Established 1996
Governing body California Department of Fish and Game

Canebrake Ecological Reserve is a 6,700-acre [2] nature reserve in the South Fork Valley of Kern County, 20 miles east of Lake Isabella, California. The California Department of Fish and Game acquired the land in 1994 amd by 1996, 1,300 acres became the Canebrake reserve, named after Canebrake Creek, a tributary of South Fork Kern River. A 1.2 mile nature trail crosses Canebrake Creek, is wheelchair accessible, and has views of cottonwood-willow forest with several willow species (Salix gooddingii , S . lasiandra , and S . laevigata) and Fremont cottonwood (Populus fremontii) that intergrade with a relic stand of Joshua trees (Yucca brevifolia).

The reserve was enlarged by land purchases in 2002 and 2005 through the state Wildlife Conservation Board. Although not contiguous, one segment is in Cap Canyon, the other in Scodie Canyon, the lands are important corridors for wildlife connecting the reserve to Sequoia National Forest.[3] The 2005 purchase by the Wildlife Conservation Board (WCB) used Proposition 117 funds. [4] Proposition 117, known as the California Wildlife Protection Act of 1990, created the Habitat Conservation Fund with an annual budget of $30 million dollars, for various state agencies such as the WCB. [5]

Rare bird species in the area include the federally-listed endangered Southwestern Willow Flycatcher[6] (Epidonax traillii extimus), state listed endangered Western Yellow-billed Cuckoo (Coccyzus americanus occidentalis)[7] and the Tricolored Blackbird (Agelaius tricolor), a species of concern. The South Fork Kern population of Southwestern Willow Flycatcher is one of the largest in the US. [8]

Habitat restoration

Habitat restoration includes planting of Fremont cottonwood, red willow, Oregon ash, white alder, hoary nettle and California black walnut. One goal of the restoration is to increase suitable riparian areas for the Kern Red-winged Blackbird and Southwestern Willow Flycatcher, both of which require dense cottonwood-willow forest.

The Kern Red-winged Blackbird is on the state's species of concern list. [9]. Part of the historic nesting area on the South Fork Kern River was lost from land clearing. In 1954, the filling of Lake Isabella reservoir inundated and destroyed several miles of riparian and wetland nesting areas for the Kern Red-winged Blackbird. The largest breeding population still occurs in the South Fork Valley and may number as many as 500 individuals. The current nesting area is from Canebrake Ecological Reserve to the area around the town of Lake Isabella. [10]

Historian Wallace M. Morgan, in History of Kern County, California. wrote that the South Fork Valley was the first area settled, around 1846, and described the valley as "a fertile strip of bottomland that forms the most important of the mountain farming districts." [11] The first acreage purchased for reserve was part of the 129-year-old Bloomfield Ranch.


Restoration work in the Canebrake Ecological Reserve and South Fork Valley includes removing damaging invasive species such as tamarisk (Tamarix) and the invasive exotic purple loose-strife (Lythrum salicaria).

A total of 340 acres were replanted with Fremont cottonwood and red willow on the South Fork Kern River, from 1987 to 1993. The plantings are on floodplain sites from which these species had been removed and the land cleared for agriculture. The survival rates for these plantings have exceeded 90 per cent. [12]


  1. ^ ID=270278
  2. ^ Audubon Kern River Preserve, 2009 Field Trip Descriptions "Trip D-Canebrake Ecological Reserve"
  3. ^ Californian Nov,28,2002
  4. ^ Wildlife Conservation Board board meeting minutes-August 25, 2005, Item #15 p.38
  5. ^ California Legislative Analyst's Office, 2008-9 Budget Bill Analysis:Resources Wildlife Conservation Board
  6. ^ Species Profile, USFish and Wildlife Service.
  7. ^ California Partners in Flight, Yellow-billed Cuckoo
  8. ^ Kern River Watershed stat sheet (2005) prepared for the non-profit Headwaters Institute
  9. ^ California Department of Fish and Game July 2009 Special Animals
  10. ^ Shuford, W. D., and Gardali, T., eds. California Bird Species of Special Concern: Ch II Species Accounts-Kern Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus aciculatus) California Department of Fish and Game 2008
  11. ^ Morgan, Wallace M. History of Kern County, Cal... Publ by Los Angeles, Cal Historic record company 1914 p. 27
  12. ^ "Status of Riparian Habitat" Sierra Forest p17

External links

DFG Outdoor California'' magazine "Canebrake Ecological Reserve, The Emerald in The State's Golden Crown" by Kevin O'Connor



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