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For Immediate Use                                                                                               Contact: Alison Sheehey, (760) 378-2531
November 23, 2009                                                                                                            

80-acres Protected as Alexander, Vig, Heflin Ranch becomes part of the Kern River Preserve

Another Strategic Piece of River Frontage

Weldon, CA – It was a day we had waited for, on Friday 20 November 2009, escrow closed on an 80-acre ranch which was the only land along the South Fork Kern River between Fay Ranch Road and Sierra Way that Audubon had not permanently protected. The new property includes a quarter mile of river bottom with excellent riparian and wetland habitat. Now, the Kern River Preserve includes the agricultural land on the other side of the fence where the nature trail loops back toward the headquarters!

This parcel comes right on the heels of an adjacent 26-acre acquisition that also sought to secure critical bird habitat from potential future development. “In terms of conservation, these two properties are the most important of the small properties in the South Fork Kern River,” said Reed Tollefson, manager of the Preserve. “The cottonwoods and native pastures provide important habitat for birds, and it is a great comfort that we can protect all this from development.”

The South Fork Kern River Valley has been named a Globally Significant Important Bird Area by Audubon California because it hosts nearly 200 nesting species, including Western Yellow-billed Cuckoos, Southwestern Willow Flycatchers, Summer Tanagers, and Kern Red-winged Blackbirds. The Preserve is at the heart of this critical habitat area, and has made the protection of nearby cottonwood and red willow habitat in the Valley one of its core goals.

“This area is clearly one of the natural gems of California,” added Tollefson. “When we put more property under protection, we preserve that much more of it for the enjoyment of future generations.”

We are so appreciative of our donors for their help in purchasing this important piece of wildness. We also appreciate the former owners for generously offering this wonderful land to Audubon. The first order of business will be to remove a few of the wildlife barriers between parcels. The contiguous acreage of the Kern River Preserve is now 2987 acres.

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.


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