Saturday, November 17, 2018
Protected Lands: KING-SWETT RANCHES
The King-Swett Ranches are a hidden treasure yet to be discovered by most Bay Area residents. This nearly 4,000-acre expanse of land straddles the southwestern corner of Solano County. Views from atop King Ranch sweep across the Suisun Marsh all the way to the Sierras, with Mount Diablo rising to the south. On the western edge of Vallejo-Swett Ranch, views include the Golden Gate Bridge and Mount Tamalpais, the San Francisco and San Pablo Bays, and the Napa River and marshes.
The steep hilly grasslands, oak woodlands, and riparian corridors provide habitat for a wide variety of species, including many that are rare and endangered. Johnny-jump-ups provide habitat for rare butterflies. Several ponds provide prime habitat for the endangered California red-legged frog. Slivers of serpentine soils support native grasses such as purple needlegrass, blue wild rye, and numerous wildflowers. The hills are a raptor’s paradise where golden eagles, Northern harriers, burrowing owls, and Swainson’s, Cooper’s and red-tailed hawks scan the open grasslands for food. Birders will delight in spotting Northern orioles, towhees, Western bluebirds, Swainson’s thrushes, Western kingbirds, black phoebes, tree swallows, and western meadowlarks. Mammals include black-tailed deer, coyotes and ground squirrels.