The human history of the Quail Ridge region is typical of the northern California Inner Coast Range, but it takes a unique turn with the building of the Monticello Dam in the 1950s. Native Americans lived here for thousands of years before the arrival of Spanish and Mexican explorers and ranchers, who were followed in turn by Anglo-American gold miners and settlers. Recently, researchers, students, and tourists have all used the area at different times and for different purposes. Local land use history is in some cases a tragic story of displacement and destruction, and in others a victorious tale of success, depending both on the event and the perspective. Quail Ridge Reserve lands remain relatively undisturbed by humans, retaining a large percentage of native species and having few man-made structures. The story of land use of the surrounding hills and valleys provides a useful historical and bioregional context for a fuller appreciation of Quail Ridge Reserve.

The following sections draw on many sources and rely heavily on work done by the Quail Ridge Wilderness Conservancy, especially its documentary video “Quail Ridge Reserve: The Human and Natural History of California’s Coast Range”22, and on its collection of historical documents. Quail Ridge Reserve and the surrounding area offer numerous subjects for social as well as environmental studies in, for example, archaeology, anthropology, cultural succession, management, and policy, beginning with its first inhabitants.

Photo Credits: Title, Dam (NRS Archives)

This page last updated: July 5, 2005  

Contact: Dr. Virginia Boucher
John Muir Institute of the Environment
109 The Barn, University of California, Davis, CA 95616
Phone: 530-752-6949; email:

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