New Public Open Space in Alta Sierra: Adam Ryan Preserve
In late 2011 Alta Brewer and Alan Thiesen generously donated their 41-acre meadow and woodlands to the Land Trust. Their intent was for the protection of the mixed oak and conifer habitat for wildlife, and for hiking and a beautiful vista for the public. Previously, in 1997 Alta and Alan donated a conservation easement on this property in the name of their youngest son, Adam Ryan. The Adam Ryan Preserve sits along Dog Bar Road and Alta Sierra Drive, not far from Mathis Pond.
The donation of this Preserve furthers a community goal for the creation of a publicly accessible open space, trail and fishing area. The Preserve encompasses the Alan Thiesen Trail, is adjacent to the 3.5-acres Dittemore Conservation Easement on private property, and the close by 1.5-acre Mathis Pond also owned by the Land Trust.
Planning and management for this public open space must recognize that these properties are in an environmentally sensitive resource area, but are also surrounded by homes. The Land Trust is committed to protecting the privacy and private property rights of the homeowners while providing the amenities of passive recreation.
The property consists of montane woodland primarily forested with black oak and Ponderosa pine but also including annual grasslands. It has species of special concern under both federal and California laws including Cooper’s hawk, lark sparrow and Bewick’s wren, in addition to Humbolt’s tiger-lily which is a watch list species. The property also contains the NID Rattlesnake Ditch.
Management plans include the enhancement of wildlife species, while protecting against wild fire. We will maintain the diverse oak – pine woodland forest to ensure diversity of food supply and nesting opportunities. We’ll convert meadowlands from annual grazing grasses to historic bunchgrass character to increase seed diversity, supply, and brose values. Further, we will increase wildlife shelter by the creation of brush piles or planted shrub cover in the pine grove.
The property and pond were donated by Mr. Ray Mathis for a wildlife preserve where children can fish and the public recreate. Mathis Pond is located 115 yards south of the Adam Ryan property on Dog Bar Road. It’s fed by a perennial sprint-fed wetland on the adjacent property, and flows into Little Wolf Creek. It was donated in fee title in 1991 and was the first conservation property for the Land Trust. A that time the pond-water was becoming polluted due to an overpopulation of domestic waterfowl. A Sierra College class restored the pond as a project. The Audubon Society provided nesting boxes for bluebirds and an interpretive kiosk. Local Girl Scouts planted trees. Benches were built and then installed by Eagle Scouts. Western Pond Turtles, a Species of Concern, have been observed basking at Mathis Pond. Also observed are the invasive species including muskrats, red-eared slider turtles and American bullfrog. Thick mats of blackberry surround over half of the pond, choking out other riparian vegetation. Ongoing maintenance had been adopted by the South County Rotary Club and the Alta Sierra Property Owners Association.
Alan Thiesen Trail
Well known and loved by locals around Alta Sierra, this trail loops through a small nature preserve on a hill with a park-like forest, small meadows, and some nice views. The trail connects to Mathis Pond by an informal roadside path.