Located in the southern Sacramento Valley, the Jepson Prairie Reserve is an island of remnant natural prairie in a wide alluvial floodplain used primarily for agriculture. The reserve protects one of the best remaining vernal-pool habitats, which are found only in the western United States and few other places in the world, as well as precious remnants of native bunchgrass prairie that once covered one-fourth of California.
As Olcott Lake and the reserve's other large vernal pools evaporate each spring, millions of native wildflowers bloom around them to form concentric rings of yellow, white, and blue. Many plant and animal species found on site are endemic to vernal pool habitats, including three listed shrimp species. The reserve is the only known home of the federally threatened delta green ground beetle. Altogether, over 400 species and 64 families of plants, including 15 rare and endangered plants, are found on site, notably dwarf downingia and state-endangered Colusa grass, and delta tule pea and fragrant fritillary, which are federal candidates for listing. Two sloughs flow across corners of the site, providing year-round habitat for a variety of wildlife, including beaver, otter, many species of waterbirds, and several threatened fish species.
Reserve lands are owned by the Solano Land Trust (SLT), and protected by SLT and The Nature Conservancy (TNC); UC assists in the management of this site. The reserve is named in memory of pioneering botanist Willis Linn Jepson, a Solano County native.
- Amphibian decline in California.
- Nesting biology of bees.
- Systematics of the genus Downingia.
- Spatial structure and plant-pollinator interactions.
- Effects of controlled burning of native bunchgrasses.
- Docents Program
Fifty UC Davis-trained docents hold an annual open house and lead reserve tours from early March to mid-May; contact Solano County Festival of Flowers: 707-421-1351 (for docents, call: Kate Mawdsley 530-758-5093.)