– Local landowner Keith Axelson and the Santa Monica Bay Audubon
Society urged Audubon–California to pursue acquisition of the Kelso
Creek Sanctuary (AKA the Foster property). Early in 1999, an option
to buy the property was secured. Thanks to the generous financial
support of $50,000 from the Whitecap Foundation, $25,000 from the
National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, and those individuals who
contributed more than $100,000 to a very successful fund-raising
drive through Audubon-California, the 156–acre Kelso Creek Sanctuary
was acquired. Audubon is the proud owner of one of the finest
riparian areas remaining on Kelso Creek. Thanks to all of you who
have contributed to this important purchase. We are gratefully
accepting further donations to build the endowment for the Kelso
early 1980s, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service identified the
riparian habitat along Kern County's Kelso Creek as one of the top
twenty-five habitat protection opportunities in California. In the
first half of 1999 the National Audubon Society-California secured
an option to buy 156 acres of land located along a perennial reach
of Kelso Creek fifteen miles south of the Kern River Preserve. The
new "Kelso Creek Sanctuary" of the Kern River Preserve consists of
some of the finest Fremont cottonwood and red willow riparian forest
habitat on Kelso Creek, the lowest tributary of the South Fork Kern
River. The new sanctuary includes rocky cliffs and extensive Joshua
tree stands on slopes and terraces.
The Kelso Creek Sanctuary is situated in what is believed to be the
major south to north bird migration corridor leading to Sierra
Nevada/Cascade Range breeding and nesting grounds. It provides a
critical stepping stone and link between the Butterbredt Spring
Nationally Important Bird Area, fifteen miles to the southeast, and
the South Fork Kern River Globally Important Bird Area (which
includes the Kern River Preserve) , fifteen miles to the north.
The vast majority of the watershed upstream from the new Audubon
sanctuary is in public ownership. The property is contiguous with
U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) property on the east, BLM's
9,000+-acre Bright Star Wilderness on the west, and a BLM Riparian
Management Area on half of the southern boundary. This land
ownership pattern adds to the long-term defensibility of the Kelso
Creek Sanctuary as a viable area for wildlife.
Audubon-California is hopeful of using its land ownership presence
along Kelso Creek as a tool in "Building A Culture of Conservation"
by conducting outreach and by developing cooperative management
programs with BLM and willing private landowners.
fund-raising campaign was just successfully completed to pay for the
property and insure a basic, ongoing inventory, monitoring, and
management endowment. In March, 1999 the Whitecap Foundation pledged
$50,000 to kick-off the campaign.
contribute to the endowment for the "Kelso Creek Sanctuary," you may
contact Reed Tollefson, Kern River Preserve Manager, by
E-Mail or by phone at
(760) 378-2531. Building the sanctuary's endowment will allow us to
expand restoration, enhancement, inventory, monitoring, and research
activities on the property. A large endowment will allow us to
conduct and effective Riparian Habitat Outreach Program to neighbors
who own riparian habitat along the lower twenty miles of Kelso
SANCTUARY STEWARDSHIP BEGINS
Audubon-California wasted no time in beginning stewardship
activities on its new Kelso Creek Sanctuary
Friends of the Kern River Preserve - The first Kelso Creek Sanctuary
Campout & Service Weekend was held October 23 & 24, 1999. Several volunteers from
the Friends of the Kern River Preserve assisted in the initial clean-up of the new
Cooperative Efforts - Volunteer Keith Axelson and staff from the
Ridgecrest Office of the USDIBureau of Land Management (BLM) have been working to
stop illegal off-road vehicle (ORV) trespass in the Bright Star Wilderness Area and other
public land surrounding the Kelso Creek Sanctuary. Katie Wash and David Wash from
helped to locate problem trails and their departure points from legal ORV trails and
develop workable solutions. With the help of Keith, BLM has already started work on the
ground to close some of these illegal problem trails.
Protecting the Kelso Creek Sanctuary from illegal ORV trespass is in concert with the
possibility of getting joint funding to do fencing and other habitat restoration work
where the Kelso Creek Sanctuary and BLM lands border each other. BLM manages much of the
upstream watershed as well as some streamside habitat adjacent to our property. Thanks to
Keith and BLM for their cooperative efforts.
Plant & Animal Inventories - Plant inventories have begun under
the direction of Eve Laeger, California Native Plant Society member and Friends of the
Kern River Preserve volunteer. Bob Barnes, State Director of Bird Conservation Programs,
conducted several bird inventories during spring 1999. Surveying and further
resource inventories are planned for the near future.
Native Plant Restoration There is a huge clump of salt cedar on
the Kelso Creek Sanctuary. These invasive trees, native to Eurasia, can spread hundreds of
thousands of seeds. Also known as tamarisk, they resist drought, grazing, fire, and saline
soils. This tree species has come to dominate most riparian forests in the arid Southwest.
Unfortunately, they can displace native trees, shrubs and understory plants that have much
higher value to our native wildlife. Thanks to Chris Otahal for helping to start the
removal of the huge clump of salt cedar from the Kelso Creek Sanctuary.