Ecologically Significant Property in the Southern Sierra Nevada Mountains Permanently Protected

The property will be critical in helping to prevent catastrophic wildfires in the region

June 15, 2020
Kern County, Calif

The Trust for Public Land and Audubon California today announced the permanent protection of over 3,800 acres at the intersections of the Sierra Nevada, Great Basin, and Mojave ecosystems. The newly protected property, known as Hanning Flat, will protect habitat for wildlife, including burrowing owls, golden eagles, mountain lions, black bears and American badger. Keeping this property in open space helps our local emergency response agencies focus their resources on existing homes and businesses to protect life and property from catastrophic wildfires in the region.  Acquiring lands like this that are surrounded by public and private conservation preserves makes wildfire management more efficient and effective, and prevents low-density development and the expansion of the wildland-urban interface, reducing risk of property damage and loss of life in future fire seasons. 

 “By protecting this property we’re meeting a triple bottom line: making communities safer from wildfires, protecting habitat for unique species, and creating opportunities for outdoor recreation which is an economic driver for this region,” said Alex Size, Southern California Land Protection Director for The Trust for Public Land, “We’re proud to have partnered with Audubon, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the State of California and the Kern River Valley Heritage Foundation to make this project a reality.” 

“The Hanning Flat Preserve is vitally important in securing habitat corridors between surrounding protected public lands,” said Reed Tollefson, manager of Audubon’s Kern River Preserve. “Preserving it will help local animal and plant populations withstand drought, fires and other climate-related events, allowing them space to move and adapt, while protecting our region’s natural legacy for future generations. 

This newly protected land is a truly unique ecosystem. Hanning Flat includes 13 parcels bounded by Cyrus Canyon on the north and the Fay Creek drainage on the east. The parcels range from relatively flat lands with intermittent streams and springs that drain toward Lake Isabella, to steep canyons and the headwaters of two watersheds, with elevations between 2,700 and 4,850 feet. Portions of the property lie within the Bureau of Land Management Cyrus Canyon Area of Critical Ecological Concern and within the upper watershed of Fay Creek that flows into the adjacent lands owned by Audubon’s Kern River Preserve and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Canebrake Ecological Reserve. Sequoia National Forest lands also sit adjacent to the property. Hanning Flat includes important viewshed lands overlooking Lake Isabella and is visible from many viewpoints around the upper Kern River Valley. 

  

The property will be owned and managed by the Kern River Valley Heritage Foundation (KRVHF) for conservation of open space and ecological restoration. The KRVHF intends to continue working with local ranchers to manage the property through a sustainable grazing program with an emphasis on reducing fuels, protecting native vegetation and soils.  “The KRVHF needs good relations with local ranching families who are important partners in the management and protection of our lands in the Kern Valley” said KRVHF Board Chairman Bruce Vegter.  

Improvements will be made to the various springs on the property to provide more sustainable habitat for wildlife, and restoration will be done to allow for potential burrowing owl re-introduction. The protection of this property was made possible by a generous 2019 grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and the Wells Fargo Foundation, through the Resilient Communities Program, as well as by a wide range of funders including the California Wildlife Conservation Board, California Natural Resources Agency Environmental Enhancement and Mitigation (EEM) Program, National Audubon Society-Wimberly Wildlife Fund, and the Sierra Nevada Conservancy. It will primarily benefit communities in the greater Kern River Valley, including Lake Isabella, Kernville and Weldon. 

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Contact: 

Jason Howe, National Audubon Society: 415-595-9245, [email protected] 

Joanna Fisher, The Trust for Public Land: 704-649-2048, [email protected] 

About Audubon  
National Audubon Society protects birds and the places they need, today and tomorrow. Audubon works throughout the Americas using science, advocacy, education, and on-the-ground conservation. State programs, nature centers, chapters, and partners give Audubon an unparalleled wingspan that reaches millions of people each year to inform, inspire, and unite diverse communities in conservation action. A nonprofit conservation organization since 1905, Audubon believes in a world in which people and wildlife thrive. Learn more at www.audubon.org and on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @audubonsociety.  

  

About The Trust for Public Land 

The Trust for Public Land creates parks and protects land for people, ensuring healthy, livable communities for generations to come. Millions of people live within a 10-minute walk of a Trust for Public Land park, garden or natural area, and millions more visit these sites every year. To support The Trust for Public Land and share why nature matters to you, visit www.tpl.org