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Credit 1 Pam Starr
2 Alyn Robert Brereton
3 Julie MacKinnon
4 Linda Pittman
5 Parham Pourahmad
6 Larry Whiting
7 Randall Finley
Visitation: 8,000
Area: 2,894 Acres
Lat: 35.669202
Lon: 118.304748
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Top Banner Photo Credits
Pam Starr
Alyn Robert Brereton
Julie MacKinnon
Linda Pittman
Parham Pourahmad
Larry Whiting
Randall Finley
Audubon Kern River Preserve - Site # 332

Background: The Kern River Preserve is managed by Audubon-California for the preservation of one of California's finest remaining riparian forests and the wildlife it supports. Since 1980, this preserve has been actively restoring riparian and upland habitat and now supports over 100 species of nesting birds, over 250 species of birds throughout the year, over 40 species of mammals, over 35 species of butterflies, over 25 species of reptiles and over 300 species of plants. Volunteers fill bird feeders year round to provide visitors an up close and personal experience with a wide variety of birds. A large herd of Mule Deer inhabit the preserve. Desert Cottontail graze in the grassy parking area.

As you enter the preserve, you pass the original Andrew Brown Ranch flour mill built in 1878 to process wheat grain for the rancher's mercantile. The building which houses the current visitor center was built in the 1920's and was the original Kernville Motor Inn.
Many distinct groups of indigenous people have used the Kern River Valley. The oldest artifact found on the Kern River Preserve at CA-KER-1 according to the Southern California Archeological Information Center was a piece of Coso obsidian hydrated to an absolute date of 3654 years before present. Ethnoliguistic studies of Tübatulabal language (Pahkanil) are leaning toward it being the root of many of the Paiute Shoshone tribal languages. The further north into Pauite territory the younger the language seems according to recent studies. The root language for native groups in the Southern Sierra and western Mojave and Great Basin is the Uto-Aztecan linguistic family.

Much of what is known about the original culture of the inhabitants of the South Fork is from Erminie Voegelin’s “Ethnography of the Tübatulabal” published in 1938. She interviewed many of the surviving Tübatulabal people and received the bulk of her information from Stephan Miranda, who was born around 1850. Two main tribes of Native People occupied the valley and mountains of the South Fork Kern River Valley before the arrival of people of European descent, the Noo ah and the Pahkanapil. These groups are now known by the name given to them by the Yokuts (the group of people that occupied the San Joaquin Valley), Kawaiisu (Noo ah) and Tübatulabal (Pahkanapil). There were two other groups linguistically and genetically related to the Tübatulabal; the Palagewan and the Bankalachi (Toloim).

The Habitat: Fremont Cottonwood/Red Willow Riparian forest. 50% Rubber Rabbitbrush/Four-winged Saltbush scrub. 15% Gray Pine/Live Oak Woodland. 5% Freshwater Marsh. 10% Perennial Grassland. 20%

The Experience: The South Fork of the Kern River is California's largest remaining native cottonwood/willow riparian woodland. Audubon staff and partners aggressively fight invasive weeds - making this one of the most pristine forests in all of the southwest. It supports sustaining populations of endangered and sensitive species. It exists at the intersection of 3 of North America's 10 floristic provinces. It is the northwestern edge of the breeding grounds for several desert species of birds including the colorful Summer Tanager. There are so many ecological wonders here, this list could go on for an entire book.

Wildlife and Where to Find It: The best place to observe wildlife is right at the headquarters. Sitting quietly near the suet feeders in winter brings opportunities for close encounters with up to four species of woodpecker. Watching the thistle seed feeders for close encounters with up to six species of finches plus many other species. Look under the bird seed feeders for juncos, sparrows, and quail. Species diversity changes throughout the seasons. At least 100 species of birds use the forest each season with several resident birds such as great horned owl, red-tailed hawk, scrub jay, red-winged blackbird, song sparrow, California quail, and Nuttall's woodpecker. The nature trail is good for a variety of species. Best to visit early in the morning for birds and in summer during mid-day for butterflies and dragonflies. Migrant Corner track is not an improved trail but offers great views of migrating birds in spring and a good variety of wildflowers from late winter to early May.

Viewing Tips: Birding and hiking are the two top reasons for visiting. Four nature related festivals are held each year. Bird counts and butterfly counts are held throughout the year. Visitation peaks spring through fall but winter also offers great nature observation opportunities.

Site Notes: The headquarters is situated deep within the Cottonwood-Willow riparian forest. Picnic benches allow for quiet contemplation of the surrounding forest and historic buildings. Sitting there with binoculars in hand allows the animals to come in to the guzzlers and feeders with limited disturbance. Visitors can see deer, gophers, bobcats, an occasional mountain lion, and of course dozens of species of birds. A walk down the nature trail brings visitors through multiple habitats and if one desires they can follow the self-interpretive nature trail. In late summer to early winter the river boardwalk is open to the dry South Fork Kern River. There are a few benches available along the trail.

Nearby Viewing Sites: Sequoia National Forest South Fork Wildlife Area Isabella Reservoir, CA Dept Fish & Game Canebrake Ecological Reserve, Scodie Park (Onyx)

Visitor Information: Kernville Chamber of Commerce - 1-866-537-6845 - http://www.kernvillechamber.org/
Viewing Site Hours of Operation are:
Staff On-site: Yes
Open: Everday
Hours: sunrise to sunset
Year Round: Yes
Seasonal: Closed only when the entrance road is flooded.

Road Information:   Dirt. 
Road Hazards: spring flooding
 Number of Parking Spaces: 75
Parking Fee: No
Proximity to viewing area:20 feet
 Pull-Through Parking: Yes
Parking Danger: the turn off to the entry road is on a curve.

How to Get There: The entrance to Audubon-California's Kern River Preserve is located alongside the scenic South Fork of the Kern River. It is fifty-seven miles northeast of Bakersfield, Kern County, California. From Bakersfield - Take Hwy. 178 fifty-seven miles northeast through the Kern River canyon and past Lake Isabella - continue through the communities of Mtn. Mesa and South Lake. Slow down at the T-intersection of Hwy 178 and Sierra Way as the preserve is 1.1 miles beyond this point. On the left is a large sign for Audubon California's Kern River Preserve. You are almost here. Turn left and drive down the dirt road - slowly as cattle are frequently in the field. The field is not our property - the road is an easement to the preserve - so please respect the landowner and do not stop or park until you reach the parking area inside the preserve. From the Mojave Desert - The preserve is located approximately 30 miles from Hwy 14. From Hwy. 14 take Hwy. 178 west through Walker Pass - Canebrake - Onyx and almost through Weldon. The preserve is 0.6 miles beyond the South Fork Elementary School and only 100 yards past Kelso Valley Road at Hwy. 178 milepost 57.00 (white paddle sign on side of road). On the right is a large sign for Audubon California's Kern River Preserve, you are almost here. Turn right and drive down the dirt road - slowly as cattle are frequently in the field.

Contact Information
Managing Agency: National Audubon Society
Agency Site URL: http://kern.audubon.org
Physical Address:18747 Highway 178
Weldon, CA 93283
Agency 2:P.O. Box 1662
Weldon, CA 93283
Manager Phone:760-378-2531 Contact Us:by Email
Site Phone:760-378-2531
County: Kern
Addition Website: