Pomona College Buys Trails End Ranch For New Field Station with Plans to Preserve the 50 Wilderness Acres
Pomona College has purchased Trails End Ranch, which includes more than 50 acres of almost pristine chaparral, for a new field station. The Ranch includes a ranch house, a 2,000-square-foot workshop/barn suitable for supporting fieldwork and land ideal for a range of research. The property is 3.9 miles from campus and adjacent to natural lands owned by the County of Los Angeles and the Claremont Wilderness Park. The College completed the $2.7 million purchase May 31.
According to David Oxtoby, president of Pomona College, “Trails End Ranch was a remarkable opportunity and will provide a wonderful outdoor laboratory for Pomona College students and faculty, especially in biology, geology and environmental analysis. The barn will be an ideal indoor research space and, in the future, the ranch house will provide a lovely location for a range of meetings and other activities for the Pomona College community. The purchase also fits well with Pomona's sustainability goals, as it will preserve an important piece of natural landscape from future development.”
While the land is further from campus than the Claremont Colleges’ Bernard Field Station (BFS), Trails End contains three native ecosystems that are not represented at BFS: a seasonal stream in Live Oak Canyon, a mature live oak forest occupying the canyon floor and a large expanse of chaparral on the east and south-east sides. Animal residents include bobcats, black bears, mule deer, reptiles, amphibians such as the California newt, and more than 100 species of birds. Its acquisition represents a significant addition to the College’s resources and an investment in the College’s faculty and students.
“Providing opportunities for ecological research in Southern California is particularly critical because these seasonally arid Mediterranean ecosystems are among the rarest in the world,” says Jonathan Wright, associate dean and professor of biology at Pomona.
“The Trails End property would [also] provides fantastic opportunities for the Geology Department,” according to Professor Robert Gaines. One of the strongholds of Pomona’s Geology curriculum is hands-on instruction in the field. Trails End provides learning opportunities in several disciplines from earth materials and plate tectonics to weathering and erosion, the sedimentary cycle, soil science and hydrogeology.
The newly constructed barn/workshop is spacious and ideally equipped to support field-based classes and research and will allow on-site sample sorting, testing and data analysis once furnished.
“Analysis on site has great advantages,” explains Gaines. “Rather than putting samples in bags and forgetting about them until…the next lab period, students could do a great deal of preliminary work on site and thereby engage with science problems more immediately and deeply.”
The beautiful main lodge, recently renovated, is believed to have been built in 1918. It features wood-paneled walls, a beamed-ceiling, large stone fireplace, and large windows which give the lodge an airy, comfortable feel. The main room provides an expansive 20' x 40’ space that will be used for future College meeting space. Despite its rustic appearance, the lodge is an almost energy neutral building, powered by the property’s bank of 126 photovoltaic panels that feed excess electricity back to the grid. A separate guesthouse could provide overnight accommodations for students utilizing the area for research projects. The property also contains a groundskeeper cottage as well as water tanks that can store 36,000 gallons.
Pomona is currently developing policies for use of the Trails End Ranch property and buildings by the Pomona College community. Academic use of the property is expected to begin in January 2013.