Land Trust of Napa County is pleased to announce an addition to the Wragg Ridge Preserve that the Land Trust purchased in 2018 at the southern end of Lake Berryessa. The new 40-acre addition is surrounded on three sides by the Preserve. With this addition, the Preserve now totals 1,950 acres. 

The new addition also touches the Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) land that surrounds Lake Berryessa – 30,000 acres, including the Lake. The BOR land abuts the nearby 2,500-acre Quail Ridge Reserve, part of the University of California’s Natural Reserve System. The UC Natural Reserve System owns and manages natural areas statewide, providing priority sites for education and research carried out by faculty and students. The Quail Ridge Reserve is a partnership between UC, the Bureau of Land Management, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, BOR and the Land Trust of Napa County. 

“We’re excited to add this property to protected lands in the area,” said Doug Parker, CEO of the Land Trust. “This acquisition ensures that an important gap within protected lands in this area is permanently protected for wildlife and helps to further protect the area’s extensive oak woodlands. The Bay Area Conservation Lands Network identified this property as a high priority for conservation.”

The Wragg Ridge Preserve is dominated by extensive oak woodlands—predominantly blue oaks and interior live oaks, with some black oaks. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has documented habitat for more than 300 wildlife species that depend on oak woodlands for food and shelter. Protection is a priority as oak woodlands are endemic to the region and only a small percentage are protected statewide.

“I want to thank the Goetze family for agreeing to work with the Land Trust to protect their land,” said Doug Parker. “I know they have been long-time landowners in the area.”

The Goetze family owned thousands of acres in the area for decades, living and ranching there, from the time of Bruno Goetze, the grandfather of the current owners. Bruno Goetze had a ranch in Wragg Canyon, where Pleasure Cove is now. A significant amount of this large landholding was sold by Bruno’s son, Ernie Goetze, to the federal government in 1955 as part of the eminent domain that led to the construction of Monticello dam and the creation of Lake Berryessa.

Sharon Evensen, one of the siblings who sold to the Land Trust, remembered her childhood in Monticello, the town that was founded in 1866 and later inundated by the reservoir in 1957 after the dam was completed. “I went to grammar school in the two-room schoolhouse right in the Town of Monticello,” she said. “Our family house was in Steele Canyon and our grandparents’ ranch was in Wragg Canyon. The parcel we just sold was the last of our family’s parcels in the area. We are pleased to know the Land Trust will preserve and keep this land in its natural state for the benefit of future generations.”

Besides extensive oak woodlands, the Wragg Ridge Preserve contains priority wetlands, including a creek, seasonal pools and year-round ponds. The wetlands provide habitat for rare species, including the federally listed California Red-legged Frog, one of the few federally listed species in Napa County. The largest native frog in the western United States, this species is estimated to have lost over 70% of its previous habitat. It was listed under the Federal Endangered Species Act in 1996. The Land Trust will work with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service on habitat enhancement and restoration efforts for this species as well as other wildlife on the preserve.