to transmit an email to the authors with corrections or
updates. Please include your name and telephone number for the
authors so they may communicate with you if there are questions. If
you wish to speak with the authors by telephone, call 520-432-5783.
. . . Thank you . . .
The Butte Valley National Grassland (NG) is comprised of 18,425
acres and located in northern California between Dorris and
Macdoel. Overall administration is provided by the Klamath National Forest
Supervisor's Office. There are no developed campgrounds.
The areas now designated as "grasslands" were settled in the
1800s under a variety of "Homestead Acts" which opened the land
to people, generally farmers, and helped to settle the west. A
prolonged period of drought in the late 1920s into the 1930s
caused some homesteads on sub-marginal farmland (a location
receiving 15 or less inches of annual moisture) to literally dry
up and blow away. During this time, Congress established the
Land Utilization Program (LUP) which bought homesteads from
bankrupt private owners and returned it to public land status.
The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) helped to stabilize the
eroding soil by re-seeding it and applying other conservation
techniques. In the 1950s, the LUP holdings were assigned to the
USDA Forest Service which was tasked with management of these
sub-marginal lands. Over the years the Forest Service has
established some twenty National Grasslands. "The designation of
the area as National Grassland is not a description of the area
as much as a statement of policy and effort to restore the area
to a multiple of uses and benefits."
Designated in 1991, Butte Valley NG is the youngest of all the
grasslands. It is the only national grassland in California and
may be the smallest in the country - you can stand in the middle
of this grassland and see to its four boundaries. Besides early
settlers draining, plowing, and grazing the land now known as
Butte Valley NG, it was also used as a bombing range during World
War II. These "manipulations" took its toll on the land but the
Forest Service has been and continues to reclaim the land through
a variety of methods.
Junipers are the only tree growing on the NG while sagebrush,
bitterbrush, and greasewood are the dominate shrubs. The north
side of the NG has a pre-homestead high desert appearance while
the southern end has a grass prairie appearance. Pronghorn
antelope, mule deer, kangaroo rats, and coyote make the NG their
home along with a variety of reptiles but most of the wildlife is
shy of humans. A wide variety of birds who frequent the NG are,
on the other hand, easy to see.
The Butte Valley NG provides a great habitat for an amazing
variety of songbirds and the adjoining Meiss Lake, in the Butte
Valley Wildlife Area, attract thousands of migrating waterfowl
each year. Between the NG and Wildlife Area, it is not unusual,
even for a beginner, to see dozens of birds in a day of
birdwatching. Bird watching may be Butte Valley NG's best
Camping is not a developed recreation activity on Butte Valley
NG. There are no developed campgrounds or established camping
areas. However, recreational vehicle enthusiasts, as well as
car, tent, bicyclist, and other campers, are welcomed to dry camp
on the NG. The authors found two areas on Sams Neck Rd. in the
grassland where dispersed camping is possible. The first is
[sort of] a corral at GPS coordinates N41 53.673; W121 59.759 and
the other is further down the road at coordinates N41 54.118;
W122 01.489. Fill your water jugs at the gas station in Macdoel,
CA. You are asked only to practice good "leave no trace" camping
techniques - leave your campsite as you found it.
Butte Valley NG is an easy drive from some large urban
metropolitan area like Redding, CA and Klamath Falls, OR but few
people have discovered it. True, it isn't very big but it does
have some interesting discoveries if you are willing to stop and
explore for a day or two.
1312 Fairlane Road
Yreka, California 96097-9549
RANGER DISTRICT ADDRESSES
37805 Hwy 97
Macdoel, CA 96058