Introducing the Flynn Wildland Preserve
By Irv Schiffman
This edition of the River Partners Journal is dedicated to the memory of Bernard (Barney) Flynn, the founder, along with John Carlon, of River Partners.
To honor Barney’s memory the Board of River Partners voted to change the name of the Del Rio Wildland Preserve to the Bernard F. Flynn Jr. Wildland Preserve. It is particularly fitting that the Del Rio Preserve is dedicated in Barney’s honor, as Barney played an essential role in obtaining the several grants that allowed the organization to purchase and restore the property.
The Bernard F. Flynn Jr. Wildland Preserve is a 259-acre site located in the southeastern corner of Glenn County just south of the Llano Seco Rancho. It occupies flood-prone land between the Sacramento River Flood Control Project setback levee and Angel Slough. The area was of interest to Barney and River Partners because it added to the largest contiguous block of conservation easements on the Sacramento River.
River Partners began its restoration activities on the Preserve in 2004. The primary goal of the restoration process was to establish a flood-neutral structurally complex planting of high quality vegetation that would benefit a broad range of special status wildlife species, that is, species which are listed, or proposed for listing, as threatened or endangered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Accordingly, specific habitat plantings were created to provide habitat for the bald eagle, Chinook salmon, steelhead, Swainson’s hawk valley elderberry longhorn beetle, western yellow-billed cuckoo, and willow flycatcher. Over the years the Preserve was transformed from marginal orchard land to oak woodland and savannah communities.
The complex of plantings on the site designed to attract the various wildlife species include valley oak, Oregon ash, Fremont Cottonwood, gumplant, mugwort creeping wildrye, Santa Barbara sedge, California blackberry, box elder, arroyo willow and coyote brush. Due to these successful habitat restoration efforts, the Preserve is now linked to over 17,000 acres of habitat protected by conservation ownership and easements on Llano Seco Rancho.
Beyond enabling wildlife to thrive in the restored habitat, the Wildlife Preserve also invites residents to partake in recreation and education activities. These include field days with students from local schools, and the annual “Birds of the Riparian Habitat” tour in conjunction with the Snow Goose Festival led by our senior restoration ecologist, Tom Griggs. In December 2009, River Partners hosted more than 70 volunteers and community leaders at the site at its first annual “Make ‘Em Sweat” tree planting event.
Barney understood the importance and value of riparian restoration as well as the need to increase public access to restoration areas. In dedicating the Bernard F. Flynn, Jr. Wildland Preserve in his honor, we celebrate Barney’s drive to protect and restore the riparian forests of California, not only as a resource for wildlife, but for the citizens of the Central Valley and State of California.