Quail Ridge Reserve – Piecing Together a Dream
Quail Ridge Reserve continues to be a work in progress. It is
a result of hard work and fundraising to protect the Quail Ridge
peninsula from development and to provide a teaching and research
site for the University of California. The beginnings can be traced
to the summer of 1983, when Frank Maurer and Lenora Timm were
exploring the Inner Coast Range. An acquaintance and real estate
agent showed them a 76-acre parcel at the tip of Quail Ridge Peninsula,
and Maurer and Timm both were struck by the beauty of this extraordinary
terrain. Initially considering it a possible retirement destination,
Maurer and Timm changed plans after a professional botanist noted
stands of rare, native bunchgrass and oaks (see
Maurer and Timm purchased this parcel with the goal of protecting
it from development. The western border of their new property
passed through a blue oak grove and a magnificent stand of purple
needlegrass. An adjacent 75-acre parcel was owned by a Spanish
couple who had been scammed in the “Alps” real-estate
scandal noted above, and they were eager to sell. After some negotiations,
the land was sold to Maurer and Timm with financial assistance
from an imaginative trade-off with the Napa County Land Trust
(now the Land Trust of Napa County) in which the Trust loaned
the $60,000 needed for the purchase in exchange for a perpetual
open space conservation easement being placed on both parcels.
The Trust had attempted before, unsuccessfully, to protect these
two parcels with easements. This agreement was, therefore, a victory
for both sides.
and Timm subsequently bought parcels from two other European victims
of the land scam, and between 1983 and 1989 they spearheaded the
purchases of a total of ten parcels – 1,072 acres in all
– protecting these properties from plans to develop hunting,
ranching, pig farming, and camping sites. They involved other
individuals as “tenants in common” and “limited
partners” in Quail Ridge Associates, and in 1989 they established
a non-profit organization, Quail Ridge Wilderness Conservancy
(QRWC), to serve as a basis for educational outreach to the public
and for fundraising for the Reserve. The Conservancy currently
enjoys the support of over 400 members.
In the late 1980s, site visits by scientists from three different
UC campuses (Berkeley, Santa Cruz, and Davis) sparked interest
in this land from the University of California. In 1991, 242 ha
(600 acres) of Quail Ridge became one of 29 Reserves in the UC
Natural Reserve System (35 Reserves as of 2004). Quail Ridge Reserve
was now official.
Currently spanning 1,937 acres, the Reserve is owned by multiple
agencies, including the Quail Ridge Wilderness Conservancy, the
University of California, U.S. Bureau of Land Management, the
U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, and the California Department of Fish
and Game (see
Ownership Map). Through a cooperative agreement, it is managed
by the UC Davis Natural Reserve System. The Land Trust of Napa
county continues to hold and monitor the conservation easements.
In 1999, the California Coastal Conservancy granted $415,000
to the UCD NRS for the purchase of additional property for inclusion
in the Reserve. Conservation easements held by the Land Trust
of Napa County were placed on the properties.
the primary manager, UCD NRS keeps the roads in repair, maintains
facilities for classes and researchers, oversees use, and attempts
to control invasive plants such as yellow starthistle, barbed
goat grass and medusahead grass that threaten the remnants of
native grassland at the Reserve.
In its first years, few research projects were pursued at Quail
Ridge. But by 2004, research is gathering momentum, the publication
list is growing, and we have been spreading the word about the
unique resources available at the site.