Big Chico Creek Ecological Reserve
The Big Chico Creek Ecological Reserve (BCCER) contains 3,950 acres of diverse canyon and ridge habitats, including 4.5 miles of Big Chico Creek, and is home to many species of plants and animals. The BCCER was created with the purchase of the Simmons Ranch in 1999 and the Henning Ranch in 2001. It is owned by the California State University, Chico, Research Foundation.
The Big Chico Creek Ecological Reserve is located on the ancestral land of the Mechoopda Indian Tribe and under the direction of Chico State Enterprises. Their mission is to work to preserve critical habitat and to provide a natural area for environmental research and education.
Goals of the Reserve
- Support the educational mission of CSU, Chico by providing a site with natural resources to support research and teaching
- Develop, upgrade and maintain databases to support research and instruction
- Protect and monitor on-site natural resources
- Provide public outreach and education
Public Use of BCCER
Public walk-in access for nature viewing is open from dawn to dusk every day (except for hunt days, which are noted on the website). All public access is walk-in only from the gated area unless granted access otherwise. Hiking, flower, and wildlife observing are compatible with the educational goal of the reserve. Please use common sense to prevent habitat damage.
Pets and swimming are prohibited.
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.
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 and turkey in specific zones only. Success rates, tissue samples and hunter observations provide useful research data.