WildPlaces encourages responsible growth in existing developed areas and the preservation and restoration of our natural resources. For over a decade, we have conducted many conservation and service learning projects to further this goal.
Whether large or small, in developed locations or in wild and remote places, these projects have a profound impact on the natural environment and on those who engage in the sort of direct action that creates a cleaner and greener future.
We believe that development should be focused in existing cities and unincorporated towns, allowing Tulare County to enjoy the benefits of appropriate development while avoiding the urban and rural sprawl, increased traffic congestion, water shortages, greater air, soil, and water pollution, and the loss of prime agricultural and natural resource lands that too often result from poor development choices.
Beginning in 2004, WildPlaces volunteers and the U.S. Forest Service have worked together at our shared Springville Nursery to plant thousands of Blue and Valley oak acorns, which were collected by private property owners and residents of the Springville area. The Springville Nursery functions as both an educational opportunity for local students and community members and a functioning native plant nursery.
The regeneration of oak seedlings throughout California and particularly the southern Sierra and foothill regions has dramatically slowed due to damaging ranching practices and climate change in the last century. Also, pressures from poorly planned urban and foothill developments plus population growth have further threatened this important and rare environment, one of the last great stretches of contiguous oak woodland habitats remaining in California. Some of the most affected oaks are the Valley Oak (Quercus lobata) and Blue Oak (Quercus douglasii) — both of which are emblematic of the Sierra foothill landscape.
WildPlaces and the USFS distribute oak seedlings to private landowners, our members, and civic groups for small-scale restoration projects and to promote the use of native drought adapted plants.
CIRCLE J — NORRIS RANCH
Circle J — Norris Ranch is a beautiful 620-acre Tulare County of Education field trip site in the Sierra foothills that offers a wide variety of field studies programs. WildPlaces has organized several service learning projects here including the construction of native plant gardens and floating islands with students from Porterville’s La Sierra High School and others.
LOGGY MEADOW RESTORATION
Loggy Meadow Restoration project is a joint effort between WildPlaces and the U.S. Forest Service to restore the meadow’s hydrology and ecology to a healthy state. The U.S. Forest Service has fenced off the meadow stream and secured hay bales to the stream banks to slow erosion. Volunteers from WildPlaces’ Immersed in the Wild program have planted hundreds of willows in an effort to anchor the hay bales and stabilize stream banks that have been eroded by unsustainable cattle grazing practices.
RIVER RIDGE RANCH
River Ridge Ranch is a unique combination of working cattle ranch, recreation grounds, and educational guest ranch in the oak savanna foothills of the western Sierra Nevada. WildPlaces has organized several service learning projects here with students from Granite Hills High School in Porterville, including the construction and maintenance of two wildlife corridors to connect the oak woodlands to the Tule River.
Yaudanchi Ecological Reserve
WildPlaces and the California Department of Fish and Game have begun a long-term restoration and study project planning process at the Yaudanchi Ecological Reserve in Porterville, CA. Volunteers planted 17 Valley Oaks that they protected from cattle in stock fence enclosures. An invasive species survey was also completed and the invasive Tree of Heaven was removed. It is our desire to utilize the reserve as an outdoor science classroom for local schools and community organizations.