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 Plants).

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.

Lake Berryessa; Photo coutesy of Bureau of ReclaimationMaurer 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.

Moon; Photo by Mike BenardAs 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.

Photo Credits: Title, Dam (NRS Archives), Lake Berryessa (Bureau of Reclaimation), Moon (Mike Benard)

This page last updated: June 23, 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: vlboucher@ucdavis.edu

Site designed and maintained by Shane Waddell
Website Technical Questions: smwaddell@ucdavis.edu