Donate Index Calendar Nature Land Protection Stewardship Newsroom Contact

For Immediate Use                                                                                               Contact: Alison Sheehey, (760) 378-2531
October 26, 1999                                                                                                                    


Weldon, CA – 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 Creek Sanctuary.

In the 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.

A $200,000 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.

To 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 Creek.


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 sanctuary.

Cooperative Efforts - Volunteer Keith Axelson and staff from the Ridgecrest Office of the USDI–Bureau 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 BLM, 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.

Kelso Creek Sanctuary Bird Checklist     Piute Fire photos     Flora Kelso Creek Sanctuary     Kelso Creek Sanctuary Purchase     Audubon California protects Kelso Creek Watershed     Audubon Brightstar Wilderness Addition

About Audubon Kern River Preserve
The Kern River Preserve is managed by Audubon California for the preservation of one of California’s largest contiguous cottonwood-willow riparian forests and the wildlife it supports.

Audubon Kern River Preserve supporters provide financial and volunteer support for Preserve outreach, education, wildlife habitat protection & stewardship.


Home Page | Site Map| About KRP | Education | KRP Supporters | Projects

Birding | Events | Wildlife
FESTIVALS: Spring Nature | Hummingbird | Turkey Vultures

Volunteer Workdays | Application | Newsletters

KRP History | KRP in the News | Kern Valley Pride Day | Achievements | Travel Information

Kern River Preserve • P.O. Box 1662 • 18747 Hwy. 178 • Weldon, CA 93283 • E-mail
Copyright 1998-2013 by Audubon California | National Audubon. All rights reserved.

This site was created on October 21, 1998. Please Email to make comments or offer suggestions.