Mather Regional Park Vernal Pools


While some passive recreation is allowed on Mather Preserve, not all areas are open to the public. Currently, a public access plan is being developed.

Geological processes operating on millennial timescales have resulted in the vernal pool landscape that comprises much of and distinguishes the Mather Preserve. Although all vernal pool landscapes have some features in common—such as an underlying low-permeability soil layer that contributes to the water retention of the pools—all are unique. Even within the Mather Preserve, differences in elevation, microclimates, and geology result in local variation in the plants and animals that inhabit this site. Many of the vernal pool landscapes that occurred across California have been converted to other land uses. This landscape of the Mather Preserve is thus not only a rare natural feature, but is now protected. The Preserve also protects grasslands, willow-scrub, and cottonwood communities which, in turn, provide habitat for a diverse variety of native, rare, and endangered plant and animal species. 

Fast Facts:

  • The approximately 1,342-acre Mather Preserve was established according to the 2012 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) Biological Opinion for the Disposal of Mather Air Force Base for the purpo​​se of protecting, in  perpetuity, sensitive and high-value vernal pool habitat and associated listed species. 
  • The County of Sacra​​mento owns the Mather Preserve and a professional conservation organization, Center for Natural Lands Management, manages the Preserve.
  • Vernal​​​ pools pond water and flower seasonally in the Sacramento Valley, with amount and timing dependent on distribution and amount of rainfall each year. The Mather Preserve is home to endangered, threatened, and rare species including vernal pool tadpole shrimp, vernal pool fairy shrimp, western spadefoot, burrowing owl, Boggs Lake hedge hyssop, legenere, and many others. ​

How to Get There:

The vernal pools are locat​ed near Mather Regional Park, located on Highway 50 east of Sacramento.

View Mather Vernal Pools Map


  • Hiking and walking
  • Exploring nature

The Preserve is protected open space. No motor vehicles, bikes, horses, or dogs are allowed. Currently, some passive recreation, such as walking, is allowed in portions of the Preserve. 

Hours and Fees:
There are no fees and the area is accessible from sunrise to sunset.

Picnics Allowed: No. There is a nice facility for picnicking adjacent to the Preserve at the Mather Regional Park. At the Regional Park, there are restroom facilities, picnic benches, and parking. The cost is $5.00 per day. 

Additional Information:

A Wetland Management Plan​ for this property was completed in 2014. 

The Mather Preserve is also import​​ant for the educational opportunities it provides for K-12, lifelong learning, and connection with nature. To inquire about K-12 educational opportunities, follow this link. To inquire about postsecondary educational use, please contact the CNLM Mather Preserve Manager.

​Certain research activitie​​​s are also compatible with the conservation purpose of the Preserve. Researchers interested in conducting research on the Mather Preserve should contact the CNLM Mather Preserve Manager.

Learn more about the mystery of the vernal pools at Mather Field.​

Mather Vernal Pools image