Chico State has returned 93 acres of the Butte Creek Ecological Reserve to the land’s former Native American inhabitants.
Chico State Enterprises and the Mechoopda Indian Tribe of Chico Rancheria completed the transfer Sept. 26. According to the zero-dollar agreement, no buildings can be built there, and it must continue to be used for conservation and educational purposes.
“The Tribe can now begin to steward the land through traditional ecological knowledge,” Mechoopda Tribal Chairman Dennis Ramirez said during a gathering to celebrate the transfer, according to the university. “It’s our hope,” he added, “the land will continue to give back to Chico State students and the community.”
The transfer was made possible by AB379, a bill sponsored by state Assemblyman James Gallagher that became law in January and expands rules allowing the state’s Wildlife Conservation Board to partner with native tribes for conservation efforts. The tribe has similar agreements for other sites and manages a total of 626 acres of wilderness and 40 acres of agricultural land throughout Butte County.