Merced County Highway 59 Preserve

Area: Approximately 168 acres of preserved and created vernal pools.

Location: Merced County, CA

Date Acquired: 2001

Acquisition Type: CNLM holds a conservation easement to protect imperiled species and habitats that exist on the preserve in perpetuity. The preserve is owned by the Merced County Regional Waste Management Authority.

Key Habitats: Vernal Pool and California Annual and Perennial Grassland.

Species of Special Interest to CNLM: Vernal pool tadpole shrimp (Lepidurus packardi) and Vernal pool fairy shrimp (Branchinecta lynchi).


The Highway 59 Preserve was established in 2001 for the purpose of protecting and enhancing vernal pools and associated uplands. The Merced County Regional Waste Management Authority owns the Preserve, and the Center for Natural Lands Management (CNLM) holds a conservationeasement.

Conservation Significance

The Preserve is comprised of low sloping to flat grassland with scattered vernal pools. Forty-five vernal pools were constructed by the fall of 2001. In addition, approximately 110 acres of existing vernal pools and associated upland habitat are also preserved and protected. The vernal pools provide habitat for the federally endangered vernal pool tadpole shrimp (Lepidurus packardi) and the federally threatened vernal pool fairy shrimp (Branchinecta lynchi).


The Preserve is owned and managed by the Merced County Regional Waste Management Authority. CNLM’s primary goal for this Preserve is to protect the habitats and species that depend upon the Preserve for survival in perpetuity.  Cattle grazing is used as the primary management strategy to maintain the habitat through reduction of thatch, control of invasive weeds, and reduction of grassland fire risk, enhancing the vernal pool plant and invertebrate communities.

Public Access

Due to the vulnerability of the species and habitats that exist on this Preserve, it is not open to the public.


For information about Highway 59 Preserve or Center for Natural Lands Management please contact Erik Gantenbein, Preserve Manager at or 760.731.7790 extension 213.