A Natural Respite Amongst Oil Fields
In 2008, River Partners was hired by the Kern River Corridor Endowment and Holding Company (KRCE) to write a Conceptual Restoration Plan for the 935-acre Panorama Vista Preserve which straddles both sides of the Kern River in Bakersfield. A cadre of dedicated volunteers and community leaders manage KRCE, and work to link partner organizations with work at the Preserve. River Partners has worked closely with KRCE. Volunteers have developed an on-site native plant nursery and re-established hundreds of trees and shrubs using hand labor. Part of the Kern River Parkway, this nature preserve is frequented by recreationists and the general public.
This preserve comprises two distinct floodplain elevations that support dramatically different vegetation communities. The lower terrace supports typical riparian forests and shrub lands dominated by cottonwood, willow, elderberry, and relict stands of threatened native western sycamores. The upper terrace (about 10 feet higher in elevation than the lower terrace) supports a salt-brush scrub community and relict stands of endangered Bakersfield Cactus. This beavertail cactus is thought to have been distributed across its historic range on the edges of flood events. Today its showy pink blooms can be seen from the Kern River Parkway bike path which traverses the Preserve.
The Preserve hosts a unique historic landmark, Gordon’s Ferry, which was one of the first ferries that allowed travel between northern and southern California through the Central Valley along a route called the “Stockton-Los Angeles Road”. Today, volunteers and grant-funded programs bring schoolchildren from neighboring communities to the Preserve to learn about the natural history of the site, and the cultural history of the region.