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Area: 18,425 Acres
Lat: 41.784°
Lon: 
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Butte Valley National Grasslands - Site # 5019
Butte Valley National Grassland is a 18,425 acre (28.79 sq mi, or 74.56 km2) United States National Grassland located in northern California. Administered by the United States Forest Service, it is located in northern Siskiyou County, near the Oregon border, between the communities of Dorris and Macdoel along U.S. Highway 97. It was dedicated in July 1991 as the nation's 20th National Grassland. It is administered as part of the Klamath National Forest, and is the sole National Grassland in California and in Region 5 (Pacific Southwest) of the Forest Service. Administrative offices are located in Yreka, California.


Background: California Department of Fish & Wildlife Area and USFS's National Grasslands combine with private lands to offer 90 square miles of wetlands, sage flats, and farmlands, dominated by 3,000-acre Meiss Lake and sweeping views of the Cascades and Mount Shasta.

The Habitat: Wetlands, Sage Flats, Farmland

The Experience: Seasonally, waterfowl are abundant. Huge flocks of greater white-fronted and snow geese leave the wetlands to feed on private grain fields and pastures, areas that often include hundreds of foraging pronghorn. Rodents in fields draw Swainson's hawks, prairie falcons, and golden eagles; bald eagles work the lake and ponds. In the sage flats, watch the ground for burrowing owls, badgers, and the state bird, the California quail.

Wildlife and Where to Find It: High probability of seeing waterfowl, wading birds, and sandhill cranes in spring and summer. Look for snow geese in spring. Birds of prey can be seen year-round; resident golden and bald eagles provide excellent viewing from February to May. Seventy pairs of nesting Swainson's hawks; most active from April to August. Excellent car viewing; auto tour. National grassland sites offer campgrounds, universally accessible rest-rooms. Watch for birds of prey on private lands near Shady Dell and Sheep Mountain roads. No trespassing please.

Viewing Tips: The Butte Valley National Grassland is administered under multiple-use management to protect, enhance, and obtain the greatest benefit from all grassland resources. A number of local ranchers graze cattle on the Grassland, under permit with the Forest Service. Wildlife use of the grassland includes mule deer, Roosevelt elk, pronghorn, coyote, marmot, weasel, porcupine, bobcat, snakes, and lizards. Recently bighorn sheep released in nearby Oregon have been spotted near the Grassland.

Butte Valley is a good place for bird watching. The Grassland is home to Swainson's hawk, golden eagle, bald eagle, merlin, and sandhill crane. Winter residents include red-tailed hawk, ferruginous hawk, rough-legged hawk, northern harrier, American kestrel and prairie falcon. Nocturnal species that may be observed at dawn or dusk include great horned owls, short-eared owls, and long-eared owls. Burrowing owls were here historically but haven’t been seen in several years.

For over 35 years Butte Valley has been the site of a long-term study of Swainson's hawk. These migratory birds nest in western juniper trees during the spring and summer, but winter as far south as Argentina.

Site Notes: Songbirds/Perching Birds, Hoofed Mammals, Carnivores, Waterfowl, Wading Birds, Shorebirds, Insects, Reptiles & Amphibians, Birds of Prey, Small Mammals, Wildflowers

Special Tips: There are no designated recreation sites within Butte Valley National Grassland. However, a pleasant drive is available through the grassland. From Macdoel, go north 5.1 miles to Meiss Lake Sam's Neck Road. Follow that road west 4.9 miles, through the Grassland, to Indian Point Road. Go north along Indian Point Road for 4.6 miles, and admire the low rock bluffs on the west side. The sharp turn at Indian Point is a scenic spot to park and see the windmill. At Richardson Road, go east 5.2 miles back to Route 97, one mile south of Dorris. If coming from Dorris, simply take Richardson Road west to Indian Point Road, go south, and then return east on Meiss Lake Sam's Neck Road.

How to Get There: On Highway 97, 0.5 miles south of MacDoel, turn west on Meiss Lake Road. Continue 5.1 miles to DFG’s Wildlife Area. To see USFSs Butte Valley National Grasslands, turn at marked exits north of MacDoel on Highway 97
 

Contact Information
Managing Agency: USDA Forest Service/Klamath National Forest
Agency Site URL: https://www.fs.usda.gov/klamath/
Physical Address:37805 Highway 97
Macdoel, 96058
Agency 2:
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Manager Phone:
Site Phone:530-398-4391
County: Siskiyou
Addition Website:  http://www.klamathbirdingtrails.com/sites/37buttegrassland.shtml