Garden Bar Preserve

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652 Acres, Established 2013

Access: Limited public access.

This 652-acre working cattle ranch located in the Southern reaches of Nevada County includes blue oak woodlands, grasslands, over two miles of Bear River frontage and two miles of interior creeks.

Garden Bar Preserve connects a 9,000-acre conserved landscape on both sides of the Bear River. This represents six linear miles of Bear River and nine linear miles of oak woodland foothills. It is contiguous to Wild Rock Ranch and Quail Agricultural Conservation Easements. This increases water quality protection and species migration.

The intact blue oak woodland addresses the stresses of climate change, reduces soil erosion and sustains water quality. It provides habitat for a wide range of terrestrial and aquatic species. It is BYLT’s objective to improve and ensure the healthy functioning of these natural systems.

Cool Facts: Jim Gates of Nevada County Free Range Beef grazes his cattle on the property. The cattle are grass fed and grass finished. They range freely over hundreds of acres of lush green pasture, enjoying fresh air, warm sunshine, and clear water. They are not given hormones or antibiotics, and their pasture grass is pesticide free. For more information visit

Flora and Fauna: Flora on the Preserve includes trees such as ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa) and blue oak (Quercus douglasii). Forbs include owls clover (Castilleja lacera), showy milkweed (Asclepias speciosa) and Ithuriel’s Spear (Triteleia laxa). Wildlife cameras have captured pictures of black bear (Ursusamericanus), mountain lion (Puma concolor), and feral pigs (Sus scrofa).

History: Early California pioneers once passed through this land on the Emigrant Trail enroute from treacherous passes in the Sierra Nevada mountain range into central regions of the state. A section of the Emigrant Trail can be found at the Garden Bar crossing on the Bear River.

Future: BYLT’s stewardship team plans to embark on a pollinator restoration project and will be planting native perennial grasses in the fall. BYLT is also working closely with CalFire to conduct prescribed burning of the invasive grasses at appropriate times of year to improve grassland species composition. After receiving a grant from Sierra Nevada Conservancy for restoration planning, BYLT now has a wetland restoration plan in place for an area of Little Wolf Creek that would support the threatened California black rail (Laterallus jamaicensis coturniculus).

How to get there: Garden Bar Preserve is located in South Nevada County on the Bear River and accessed through private property and several locked gates.

Rules, regulations: Public access is available several times a year during special events. NO HUNTING.

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