50 Acres, Established 2012. Transferred to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife in January, 2020.
Access: Public access allowed.
Conservation Values: Aquatic and riparian habitat, blue oak-foothill pine woodland, historic mining site
Near the confluence of Deer Creek and the Lower Yuba River, Black Swan Preserve is the story of nature reclaimed. This Preserve near the town of Smartsville, located off Mooney Flat Road on the border of Nevada and Yuba counties, abounds with riparian habitat, blue oak-foothill pine woodlands, and great groundwater-fed ponds. It’s an archeologist’s dream with Gold Rush-era townsites, great hardrock tunnels and the towering hydraulic-eroded bluffs of Blue Point Mine. Long before the miners altered the landscape with water cannons and ditches, Native Americans fished for salmon in Deer Creek.
In 2012, Bear Yuba Land Trust was approved to receive a grant from the CalTrans Environmental Enhancement and Mitigation Program to acquire this “highly sensitive” 50 acres. With mining’s legacy hydraulic pond and diggings, the property is now home to a rich variety of wildlife, birds and the Western pond turtle, a species of special of concern. BYLT trails team and volunteers have built two miles of trail around the pond with more on the way.
Cool Facts: Smooth cobbles from the ancient Yuba River, once Amazonian in size, can still be found on the Black Swan Trail along with traces of the Gold Rush era Excelsior Ditch (also found along the Independence Trail).
Flora and Fauna: Common tree species include gray pine (Pinus sabiniana) and blue oak (Quercus douglasii). Shrubs include buck brush (Ceanothus cuneatus) and silver bush lupine (Lupinus albifrons). Interesting forbs found near the pond include umbrella sedge (Cyperus eragrostis) and duckweed (Lemna minor). The pond is critical habitat for the Western pond turtle(Actinemys marmorata), as well as bass (Moronidae family), an array of waterfowl including the American Dipper(Cinclus mexicanus) and Belted Kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon).
History: In the late 1800s, Black Swan Preserve was the site of a large ranch and homestead.None of this information pertains to our land. Look for lichen-covered stone walls and an old date orchard dating back to this time. On deer creek, sacred fishing pools and grinding rocks can be found. Along the river, great stone walls built by Chinese miners who toiled at the Black Swan hydraulic diggins.
What to do there: Hike the beautiful two mile Black Swan Trail. Fish in the pond. Go birding. Look for animal tracks. Look for cobble on the trail from the ancient Amazonian-sized Yuba River that once flowed here. NO HUNTING.