The Big Chico Creek Ecological Reserve (BCCER) fulfills a variety of important functions: it provides opportunities for research, it serves as an outdoor classroom for CSU Chico and local K-12 students, and it provides a pristine natural setting for the general public and hunters to enjoy. The BCCER is a 3,950 acre property located just 10 miles east of Chico. What makes this property unique is the mission that drives its existence: Habitat Preservation, Research, and Education.
As part of the purchase agreement for the BCCER, The CSU, Chico Research Foundation developed a hunt program with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. The BCCER provides hunting opportunities for A1, C4 and G1 deer seasons as well as spring turkey hunts. The California Deer Association has been a major supporting partner of the BCCER since its inception in 1999.
In order to provide a high quality hunt experience, the BCCER continually seeks ways to improve the hunt program. One way that we can improve this is through vegetation management, a practice that we focus most of our time on. The Reserve practices Traditional Ecological Knowledge, taking its cue from the thousands of years of sustainable occupation by Native American Tribes. The Maidu were once thought to be passive hunters and gatherers, but we are realizing more and more that they were active managers of the land. Their main management tool was fire. Fire is also our most important management tool. Prescribed burning helps by controlling invasive plants, stimulating growth of desirable forbs, reducing brush while allowing more sunlight to reach the forest floor, as well as improving visibility. Thousands of man hours are also spent every year manually thinning and reducing the height of brush so that edible plant material is within deer browsing level. These practices are made possible in part by CDA support. The Chico Chapter has generously donated over $2,000 towards hand tools and equipment to support BCCER field operations in the last 12 months.
The BCCER has found eco-friendly ways to provide recreational opportunities to the public without compromising habitat preservation goals. The hunt program goes one step further by generating revenue to further our mission. If a BCCER hunt is something that might interest you, please come visit the property. The Reserve is open to the public every day except on hunt days. Visitors are welcome to park at the gate and walk in. A half mile down the road is the BCCER office, a historic barn and a kiosk with maps and nature guides. For rules and information please visit our website at www.csuchico.edu/bccer.