OUR ENVIRONMENTBiological Resources
Understanding the importance of our biological resources allows Yucaipa to protect habitats, plants, and wildlife as the community changes over time. The landscape in the lower elevations is dominated by semiarid habitats, including rolling oak savannah, grassland, chaparral, and scrub communities. These communities transition to pine and cedar forest on the slopes of the San Bernardino mountains and eventually to alder, willow, and cottonwood woodlands at higher elevations along perennial mountain streams.
Yucaipa and its surrounding region are home to diverse vegetation and wildlife communities. These include developed and disturbed lands as well as a variety of grassland, coastal sage scrub, chaparral, deciduous woodland, and riparian plant communities. Based on a 1992 master environment assessment prepared for the City of Yucaipa, some of the more common habitats are:
- Chaparral. This includes southern mixed chaparral, chamise chaparral, and scrub oak chaparral. These plants are along lower slopes of the mountains.
- Coastal Sage Scrub. Coastal sage scrub in Yucaipa is classified as riversidean sage scrub. This habitat grows on steep slopes with severely drained soils.
- Oak Woodlands. Oak woodland in Yucaipa is in various areas at lower elevations (1,000 to 2,500 feet) and canyon bottoms.
- Disturbed Grasslands. Disturbed grasslands are shrubs or trees that are altered by development, grazing, or fire. They include a wide range of nonnative species.
- Wetlands. The many stream channels that flow from the mountains through the valley region are populated with a year-round riparian scrub community.
The diverse vegetation of the broader region that includes Yucaipa provides habitat for more than 1,600 plant species and 440 wildlife species, including butterflies, fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals. The area supports many resident and migratory bird species, and the vast expanses of grassland and open, rolling oak savannah provide excellent foraging habitat for birds of prey. Protected species, such as the mountain yellow-legged frog and the California spotted owl, among many others, live in the vicinity of Yucaipa.
The open habitats surrounding Yucaipa are traversed by wildlife moving between the San Bernardino National Forest and the Badlands mountain range in Riverside County. Crafton Hills is an important wildlife corridor that connects the Live Oak-San Timoteo Canyons to the San Bernardino National Forest. The Millcreek region on Yucaipa’s northern boundary and Wildwood Canyon area are also wildlife corridors into the San Bernardino National Forest.
Yucaipa’s natural habitats support a wide range of wildlife. These include mule deer, desert cottontail, deer mouse, and several birds, such as California quail, red-tailed hawk, western meadowlark, Bewick’s wren, Bullock’s oriole, white-tailed kite, towhee, and phainopepla. The Yucaipa valley is also home to coyotes, mountain lions, and bears. To reduce potential conflicts with wildlife, the Yucaipa Animal Placement Society works with surrounding agencies to implement the Yucaipa Wildlife Corridor Program.
A broad range of organizations assist in preserving Yucaipa’s natural terrain and wildlife. These include the Inland Empire Resource Conservation District, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Crafton Hills Open Space Conservancy, Wildlands Conservancy, and other local, state, and federal agencies.