Fall hiking continues at Black Swan Preserve this Saturday for Junior Conservationists | TheUnion.com

Fall hiking continues at Black Swan Preserve this Saturday for Junior Conservationists

Submitted to The Union

With the recent rains, green is returning to the scenic, low elevation, two-mile loop trail at Black Swan Preserve on Nevada County's Western border near the town of Smartsville.

This weekend families will take a walk along the trail that weaves through California foothill pines, oak, manzanita, toyon and buck brush to the Gold Rush era hydraulic mining pond now teaming with life.

The excursion is part of Bear Yuba Land Trust's ongoing monthly series called Junior Conservationists: Stories in Nature.

A conservationist is someone who advocates or acts for the protection and preservation of the environment and wildlife.

These outings are designed for children ages 5 to 12, accompanied by a parent or other caregiver, who enjoy the art of storytelling, getting outdoors and learning about the region's rich cultural history and native flora and fauna.

"With the cooler weather, it's a great time of year to visit Black Swan," said Bear Yuba Land Trust's Community Engagement Manager who will lead the hike with Trek Docent Linda Conklin.

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"Leaves in yellow and orange are cascading down the man-made escarpment of the diggins," she said. "We saw animal tracks in the mud and a heron at the pond. There is so much exploring to do."

Near the confluence of Deer Creek and the Lower Yuba River, Black Swan Preserve is located at a former hydraulic mine site. It's a place that tells the story of nature reclaimed.

Protection of this open space and the opening of the trail was made possible by a partnership between the Bear Yuba Land Trust and California Fish and Wildlife.

Along the trail, participants will find gravel from an ancient river bed which attracted the miners who found gold here in 1853. A ditch that once delivered water to the hydraulic mines is still visible.

The devastating environmental impacts of large-scale hydraulic mining was stopped with the Sawyer Decision of 1884. In 1904, the Black Swan Company owned the former Deer Creek Mine, recovering $100,000 in gold in a four month period.

Long before the miners altered the landscape with water cannons and ditches, indigenous people lived for thousands of years fishing for salmon in Deer Creek.

There were important villages at Empire Ranch, Sucker Flat and Deer Creek, according to Archaeologist Hank Meals. The pond is critical habitat for the Western pond turtle and birds like the American dipper and belted kingfisher.

Encounter Nature instead of the mall

On Nov. 24, Bear Yuba Land Trust is teaming up with REI and the 52 Hike Challenge to get people outdoors the day after Thanksgiving.

The first 50 people who register for a guided hike on the Independence Trail will get the opportunity to ditch the traditional mall-frenzy of Black Friday and be part of a nationwide event known as #OptOutside.

To register for the hike at Black Swan and Independence Trail, visit http://www.bylt.org.

Source: Bear Yuba Land Trust.

KNOW & GO

WHAT: Junior Conservationists at Black Swan

WHEN: 9:30 to noon Saturday

COST: Free, donations appreciated

REGISTER: http://www.bylt.org