Field Trips


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Agricultural Landscapes: Rice to Ruin
Hours:  9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Cost:  $25 (Bring money for lunch stop)
Maximum number of participants: 28 (Bus) 80 miles
Trip Leader: Scott Brady
This trip will trace a transect that leads from the rice paddies 30 miles south of Chico to a restored thirteenth century Cistercian monastery 30 miles north of Chico.  In between, we will: drink coffee in Richvale, a town settled by Swedes, including Lundbergs, who became rice growers; go nuts in the almond, walnut and pistachio orchards that sprout in the area’s Vina loam; sample the fare at a few of the wineries included in the region’s burgeoning wine industry; observe riparian restoration along the Sacramento River, dine on River Burgers at a river landing bar and grill; and, break vows of silence at a Trappist monastery on land once owned by Leland Stanford.
The Feather River Fish Hatchery and Oroville Dam:  The Best Dam Tour Around
Hours:  9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Cost:  $25 (Bring money for lunch stop)
Maximum number of participants: 28 (Bus) 90 miles
Trip Leader: LaDona Knigge
At 770 feet, Oroville dam is the tallest dam in the USA.  Located on the Feather River just east of the City of Oroville in the Sierra Nevada Foothills east of the Sacramento Valley, the earthfill embankment dam has been in the public’s eye since the Feb 11th, 2017 spillway incident and evacuation of nearly 200,000 people February 13th.  This day long tour will showcase various speakers about the history of the dam and the social, economic and political consequences of the spillway incident and reconstruction project.  We will begin with a visit to the Feather River Fish Hatchery and witness spawning of Chinook salmon and steelhead trout.  Next stop will be the Oroville Visitor Center, located on Kelly Ridge Road with a view of the dam and lake, Sutter Buttes and other features from the 47 foot viewing tower.  Several video cams of the spillway reconstruction work can be viewed in the theater in the visitor center along with displays of the history of the dam, the Hyatt Power Plant, and role of the dam as the head of the 700 miles of canals, reservoirs, pumping stations and power plants that make up the California State Water Project.  The tour will be led by LaDona Knigge, Associate Professor in the Department of Geography & Planning at Chico State.  Sack lunches will be included in the tour package.
100 Day Timeline of Dam Drama
Oroville Spillway, Before and After
Fire Resilient Landscapes
Hours:  9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Cost:  $10
Maximum number of participants: 25 (Carpool) 10 miles
Trip Leader: Don Hankins
Fire is an integral process in many North American ecosystems including the fire prone landscapes surrounding Chico.  Participants will travel to portions of the southern Cascades and northern Sierra Nevada including the Big Chico Creek Ecological Reserve and Firewise community of Forest Ranch to observe and discuss efforts to plan for and restore fire at a landscape scale to achieve multiple stewardship objectives amongst diverse ecosystems, land owners, and agencies.  Weather pending, this trip will occur during the first CalTREX (California prescribed fire training exchange), and participants will have a chance to see prescribed fire in action.
Gray Lodge Pacific Flyway: Birds and Brews 
Hours:  9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Cost:  $25 (includes lunch)
Maximum number of participants: 25 (Carpool) 80 miles
Trip Leader: Dean Fairbanks
The Sacramento Valley is a major conduit for birds migrating from the north slopes of Alaska and northern Canada.  Before industrial agriculture the valley was covered in wetlands and backswamps created by the geomorphological influence of the Sacramento River a important haven for the birds to rest in during their long journey to the tropics.  Today the Pacific flyway is supported by remnant wetlands, restored wetlands and cooperative rice farmers who flood their paddies during winter to provide habitat and a food source for the birds.  This tour will include a visit to the flooded rice paddies, the historic Rancho Llano Seco where thousands of acres are set aside for wildlife habitat and conservation. Habitats include riparian forests of the Sacramento River and Little Chico Creek, Valley oak woodlands and savannas, native and annual grasslands, vernal pool and freshwater marsh wetlands. We will then head to the Gray Lodge Wildlife Area at the base of the Sutter Buttes, one of the premier winter birding areas in Northern Sacramento Valley. With its varied habitats, flat hiking trails, viewing hides, and a 3-mile auto loop, viewing the million plus ducks, hundreds of thousands of Snow, Great White-fronted, and Ross's Geese, Sandhill Cranes, Swans and raptors galore. After visiting the Sacramento Valley landscapes and bird life we will head to Sierra Nevada Brewery for a tour of the brewery at 2pm.  Be sure to sign up for the brewery tour separately on this page.  Dress for the fall weather and wear hiking shoes or boots, and bring a pair of binoculars if you have them.
Chico Historic Downtown Tour: Mixing New and Old
Hours:  1:00 p.m. – 4:00pm
Cost:  $5
Maximum number of participants: 20 (Walking) 1/2 mile
Trip Leader: Ryan Miller
Downtown Chico is a crossroads for campus and community culture, and is revered by Chicoans for its locally-owned businesses, walkable tree-lined streets, vibrant public art, and rich local history. This field trip, led by a 4th generation Chicoan, will take you on a 2-mile walking tour of Downtown Chico and adjacent Lower Bidwell Park’s iconic “One Mile”. The tour focuses on downtown’s Bidwell-era heritage, public art installations, and historic building renovations and adaptive re-use projects. The tour ends with a light lunch at a local eatery which focuses on sustainably-sourced local foods and creatively re-uses a downtown space formerly occupied by a mechanic shop.
Sierra Nevada Brewery Tours 
Hours:  10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Register separately at: http://www.sierranevada.com/brewery/california/brewery-tour