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SSU Field Stations and Nature Preserves
Sonoma County, California


The SSU Field Stations and Nature Preserves are owned and managed by Sonoma State University and consist of two properties, the Fairfield Osborn Preserve and the Galbreath Wildlands Preserve.

The 411-acre Osborn Preserve lies on the northwest flank of Sonoma Mountain, predominantly in the Russian River watershed at the dry southern end of the North Coast Range of northern California. Preserve lands span the Copeland Creek and Mark West watersheds, the two southernmost drainages in the Russian River basin. The Osborn Preserve is riddled with basalt exposures that betray the volcanic prehistory of Sonoma County. The most biologically significant geologic feature is a widespread, thick layer of rhyolite. Preserve soils are generally shallow clay loam. Due to presence of less permeable clay soils, Preserve aquatic environments are highly diverse, including a complex of perennial and seasonal creeks, ponds and marshes that support red-legged frog, California giant salamander, yellow-legged frog, and a diverse insect community. Terrestrial communities include extensive oak and riparian woodlands and native and exotic grasslands. Chaparral is limited to the Lichau Creek watershed. The Marjory Osborn Education & Research Center (2,100 sq ft) has 2 meeting rooms that are available for educational and research use, conferences and meetings. Internet access is not available at the solar powered research center, and cell phone reception can be spotty throughout the preserve. Overnight facilities are not available.

The 3,670-acre Galbreath Wildlands Preserve lies in the upper Navarro Watershed in the Coast Range of northern California. Located approximately 17 miles inland from the Pacific Ocean in southern Mendocino County, this topographically diverse landscape ranges from 900 to 2,200 feet in elevation and includes coniferous forests (Douglas-fir and redwood), mixed hardwood-conifer forests (Douglas-fir, tanoak, madrone), oak woodlands (mostly black and Oregon white oaks), and annual grasslands and riparian woodlandsi. Facilities at the Preserve are limited to two campgrounds for overnight stays or day use. The larger campground is located along Rancheria Creek and includes only a fire ring.

Customized identification guides
under development

Checklists with images, maps, and links

Albums of site participants

More information



  • Claudia Luke, Director, SSU Field Stations and Nature Preserves -- lukec@sonoma.edu -- 707-664-3416
  • Nancy Lowe, Outreach Coordinator, Discover Life -- nancy@discoverlife.org -- 404-272-4526
Updated: 08 October, 2010
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