The Cosumnes River Preserve protects wetlands, woodlands and grasslands that are home to a wide variety of animal and plant life. The 700 acres of rare valley oaks protected by the Preserve are part of the largest remaining stand of valley oak riparian (river-oriented) forest in California.
The Cosumnes River is also the California Central Valley's last undammed river - significant because the natural cycle of seasonal flooding creates some of the richest wildlife habitat. Seasonal flooding creates seasonal wetlands and provides nutrient-rich silt to neighboring riparian and grassland areas. Only minutes from the state capitol, this is a critical stop on the Pacific flyway for migrating and wintering waterfowl. The preserve's ponds, sloughs, and seasonally flooded marshes also support many resident birds.
Picture: Geese take flight at sunrise in the Cosumnes River Preserve.
Animals you may see here
- Birds: More than 200 species of birds have been sighted on or near the Preserve. A recent winter count by The Nature Conservancy tallied 636,000 birds from 142 species. Migratory waterfowl and shorebirdssuch as tundra swans, Ross's and lesser snow geese, northern pintails, cinnamon teal, mallards, and least sandpipers feed and rest at the Cosumnes in the winter and early spring flood season. Greater and lesser sandhill cranes are fall migrants. Great blue herons, black-crowned night herons, wood ducks, black-shouldered kites, red-shouldered and redtail hawks, marsh wrens and belted kingfishers are year-round residents.
Photo: a cinnamon teal (in background) and a wood duck, among birds that frequent marshes and ponds in the Cosumnes Preserve.
- Other animals seen in the Preserve includedeer, beaver, river otter, raccoon, gray fox, weasel, skunk, Audubon cottontail, coyote, muskrat, and black-tailed jackrabbit. The wetlands are also habitat for Pacific tree frogs, western pond turtles and crayfish.
- Threatened or endangered species here include the giant garter snake, Swainson's hawk and valley elderberry longhorn beetle.
Viewing tips for this area
- The best time to observe waterfowl is during the winter months. Waterfowl, cranes, wading birds, and shore birds are seen from October to March; birds of prey from November to April. Songbirds are common in the fall and spring.
- Small boat access to Lost Slough from Delta Meadows Park.
- Bring mosquito repellent.
- Be sure to see tips for "Ultimate Wildlife Watching."
How to get here
From Sacramento, take Interstate 5 south, and exit at Twin Cities Road. Head east on Twin Cities Road to Franklin Boulevard, and then turn south. Continue on Franklin Blvd. and go past Desmond Road, then proceed two-tenths of a mile to the Willow Slough Nature Trail on the left. The Willow Slough Trail is open during daylight hours.
-From the Willow Slough Nature Trail you can continue south on Franklin Blvd. for 0.2 miles to the Lost Slough Wetlands Boardwalk. The Boardwalk is on the right (west) side. Look for the entrance to a small parking area. The trail is one mile in length total with the first quarter mile wheelchair accessible. The Lost Slough Wetlands Boardwalk is open daily from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm.
-The Cosumnes River Preserve Visitor Center, rebuilt after a disastrous fire in 1995, is on the left (east) side, another four-tenths of a mile south along Franklin Blvd from the Willow Slough Nature Trail. The Visitor Center is open most weekends from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm, closed on all holiday weekends.
Size: Thousands of acres.
Managed by: It is a cooperative management arrangement. The Bureau of Land Management provides management oversight for the entire preserve. The BLM and Ducks Unlimited cooperatively manage permanent and seasonal wetland for wintering waterfowl. The Nature Conservancy oversees planning and land purchases for the preserve, and holds title to about half of its land. The other land-owning partners on the Preserve are: the BLM, California Department of Fish and Game, California Department of Water Resources, Ducks Unlimited, the Sacramento County Department of Parks and Recreation, and the state Wildlife Conservation Board.
For more information, contact:
- Cosumnes River Preserve, (916) 684-2816
- Bureau of Land Management, Folsom Field Office.
- Or see more information about the Cosumnes River Preserve. (Use the "Back" button on your browser to return to this page.) Another Web site with information on the Preserve is www.cosumnes.org.
Site 86 in the California Wildlife Viewing Guide.
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