About the Refuge
Set atop a dramatic ridge high above the San Joaquin Valley, Blue Ridge National Wildlife Refuge provides important roosting habitat in the pristine foothills of the southern Sierra Nevada mountain range in Tulare County, overlooking foraging habitat for the endangered California condor. The refuge showcases the Sierra foothill plant communities, including coniferous forests, woodlands, and chaparral.
Inspiring an appreciation for diverse, rugged, and remote natural areas, Blue Ridge NWR models land stewardship by protecting wildlife corridors, ecological processes, and mixed habitats. The refuge partners with adjacent land agencies and owners, local communities, and conservation organizations to accomplish mutual goals for the region.
The nearest towns to the refuge include Springville, which is approximately 11 miles south of the refuge, and Porterville, which is approximately 18 miles southwest of the refuge. The refuge is closed to the public due to the sensitivity of its resources.
Reason for establishment
In 1967, before the 1973 Endangered Species Act, the California condor was federally-listed as “threatened with extinction” under the Endangered Species Preservation Act of 1966. In 1976, the Service published a determination of critical habitat for the California condor. Blue Ridge was among 9 condor activity areas determined to be Critical Habitat for the condor. Blue Ridge is a large ridge-shaped mountain approximately 4.5 miles long and 3,000 feet from base to top, with the peak elevation at 5,733 feet. In 1982, the Service acquired 897 acres, securing most of the core roosting area and some of the ridgeline of Blue Ridge. This acquisition became the refuge, which is surrounded by properties owned by the Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service, California Department of Fish & Wildlife, California Department of Forestry, and several private parties. Due to the varied interests involved in the management of the area, a Habitat Management Plan was written to emphasize a cooperative effort, delineate responsibilities, and promote better communication between agencies and private parties.
The refuge is part of a cooperatively managed area designated as a Wildlife Habitat Area by the Habitat Management Plan, which is synonymous with the Blue Ridge Condor Critical Habitat Zone used in other documents.
Existing Plans and Management Constraints
Plans which direct conservation and management efforts at Blue Ridge include the California Condor Recovery Plan (USFWS 1984), Blue Ridge Habitat Management Plan (USBLM 1985), and the Draft Management Plan for the Blue Ridge Ecological Reserve (CDFG 1983), developed for CDFG’s (now called the California Department of Fish & Wildlife) land acquisition.