Public Use of BCCER
Since any human activity in a natural area will have subtle impacts that may not be noticed for many years, one might conclude that the best policy would be to forbid all recreational activities in the reserves. However, education is one of our main functions and people who tread lightly while enjoying the beauty and solitude of the reserves are learning important lessons about nature. Therefore, it is the policy of the BCCER to allow recreational activities that are compatible with our primary goals of preservation, research, and education. All public access is walk-in only from the sign-in area unless granted access otherwise.
All visitors are asked to read and comply with all rules and guidelines when visiting the BCCER.
Public Use and Recreation
We request that all visitors sign in at the main gate check-in (one person per group can sign for the group.) Signing in and out takes only a few moments and gives us an idea how many people are in different parts of the reserve and what they are doing thereby helping us evaluate potential impacts.
Conference Center Rental
The Big Chico Creek Ecological Reserve Conference Center is both a conference/retreat/meeting facility and a home for the caretakers. The first floor has a table that seats a maximum of 30 people, a kitchen, and bathroom. The second floor is private quarters for the caretakers. See Conference Center Rental.
Nature Hikes and Observation
Hiking, flower and wildlife observing are compatible with the educational goal of the reserve. Please use common sense to prevent habitat damage. See Use Guidelines. The reserve also offers a number of docent-led activities of this nature and a self-guided nature trail.
Hunting by humans has been part of the reserve ecosystem for at least 3,000 years. Currently the reserve conducts limited, lottery-based, hunt programs for deer, turkey, and quail in specific zones only. Success rates, tissue samples and hunter observations provide useful research data. For additional hunting information and application forms, please visit our hunt page.
Avoid spreading noxious weeds
Invasion and dominance of ecosystems by non-native species is a major cause of loss of global biodiversity. The reserve already has major weed problems. Help prevent further problems by following common sense rules: Clean burs and mud from shoes and clothing before entering the reserve. Wash mud from wheels and wheel-wells before driving a vehicle into the reserve. Carry out seeds from any fruits you bring for lunch or snacks.
Removal of any natural or historic object (other than legally obtained game) from its original location within the reserve should be done only as part of an approved research program. See Research Protocol.
While some pets may be as benign as their owners imagine, others terrorize wildlife, destroy habitat (digging, etc.) and transmit diseases that may prove fatal to un-inoculated wild counterparts. Bidwell Park has areas where you can hike with your pets. Please keep them out of the reserve.
Big Chico Creek in the reserve (and most of Upper Bidwell Park) is open to fishing with single-hook artificial lures and zero limit from Nov. 1 through April 30. Only artificial lures with barbless hooks may be used. (Refer to DFG Fishing Regulations). Closure during spring, summer, and fall protects highly vulnerable populations of spring-run Chinook salmon, foothill yellow-legged frogs, and western pond turtles and reduces trampling when riparian vegetation is actively growing.
Swimming at the reserves is prohibited. Western pond turtles maintain a healthy population in the reserve but have been decimated throughout most of their range, including Bidwell Park. Turtles have to bask to get their body temperature high enough for normal metabolism and egg development. They are very shy and will leave their basking perch at the sight of people. Spring-run Chinook salmon over-summer in some pools in the reserve. They don't feed all summer and have limited energy reserves. Fleeing from people uses up those energy reserves, reducing their survival chances. If you wish to swim in the creek, please do so in Bidwell Park and give the reserve turtles and salmon a break.