Frequently Asked Questions

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What is the history of the Reserve?

Efforts to protect these Campus lands began many years ago. The earliest documentation of a proposal to create a 'Riparian Woodland Sanctuary' was in 1974, when the Davis Audubon Society proposed a nature area for a portion of the old North Fork of Putah Creek.

In 1981, the UC Davis Natural Land and Water Reserve Advisory Committee first proposed the idea of preserving Putah Creek on the UC Davis Campus, as a Campus Reserve for wildlife protection, research, teaching, and passive recreation. The Putah Creek Riparian Reserve was created on July 15, 1983, by Chancellor Jim Meyer.

Is the Reserve open to the public?

The majority of the land on the Main Campus that is managed under the Reserve is open to the public. The publicly-accessible areas are located along Putah Creek, from the parking area at Pedrick Road/Road 98, downstream to the parking area at Old Davis Road, on the north side of the creek. Other areas, such as Russell Ranch, are not open to the general public, but are open to research and teaching use.  Please stay on the north side of the creek to avoid trespassing.  We want to respect our neighbor's privacy.

What are the hours of operation?

The Reserve is open from sunrise until sunset for public use, without prior authorization.

Can I ride my bike at the Reserve?

Yes, but bicycles must remain on the levee road, and are not allowed on trails.  Bike parking is available at bike racks at the picnic area.

Can I fish on the Reserve?

Yes, fishing is allowed on the Reserve, with a valid California Fishing License. Be sure to pick up all trash, lures, bait, and fishing line you bring in.

Can I build a campfire?

Campfires are only allowed within the fire ring at the picnic grounds, and not anywhere else.  Only campus-affiliated departments or groups are able to make reservations and obtain a fire permit from the UC Davis Fire Department.  Check 'Campfire' as the type of permit requested.

Can I hunt on the Reserve?

No, hunting is not allowed. No firearms are allowed on University property without permission of the University Police.

Can I bring my dog to the Reserve?

Yes, but dogs must remain on leash at all times, and must remain in areas open to dogs. See the maps of the Reserve to identify which areas are open to on-leash dogs.

Can I have a group event on the Reserve?

The only area open to reservations is the fire ring picnic grounds. At present, only campus departments or registered student organizations can reserve the fire ring picnic grounds.  Individials and non-campus groups may use the picnic area on a first-come, first-served basis.  For campus groups interested in reserving the space, contact Conference and Event Services.

Is there Poison Oak at the Reserve?

Yes, Poison Oak is present along the Reserve, either mixed in with vegetation or in clumps by itself. Learn to identify Poison Oak and avoid it.

What about wild animals?

The Reserve is a wildlife area, and home to many species of birds, snakes, fish, and other animals. If you see these animals, enjoy the view but don't harass or provoke them. Bear, Mountain Lion, and Rattlesnake, though uncommon, have been spotted on or adjacent to the Reserve alont Putah Creek.

Can I swim at the Reserve?

Yes, swimming is allowed in Putah Creek. Remember that the south side of the creek is privately owned, so do not exit the water on the south side.

Is alcohol allowed on the Reserve?

Alcohol is not allowed on the Reserve except with an event license obtained through Campus Events and Visitor Services. The one-day event license will allow serving of alcohol, within certain guidelines.

Are there restroom facilities on the Reserve?

There are no restroom facilities on the Reserve. A drinking fountain is available at the fire ring picnic grounds.