Hazards & Safety

Preserves are wild places. Each visitor must take precautions to avoid injury and be prepared to respond to an emergency. Risks include, but are not limited to, primitive trails, loose rocks, landslides, tick-borne diseases, poison oak, rattlesnakes, and mountain lions

Persons applying for access are responsible for ensuring that all members of their party are aware of hazards and safety guidelines.

Safety Guidelines

Carry a cell phone and emergency contact numbers.

  • Cell Phones and Radios - Ensure that at least one individual in your group has a fully-charged cell phone. Cell phone reception is spotty on our preserves so be sure to ask staff to identify areas with reception.Verizon has the best reception at the Galbreath Preserve. Hand-held radios must be carried by persons leading elementary school group tours at the Osborn Preserve.
  • Emergencies – Carry emergency contact phone numbers. When immediate police, fire department, or medical assistance is necessary to protect life or property, call 911. At the Osborn Preserve, more immediate assistance can be obtained by calling SSU Police Services 707-664-4444. When contact has been made with emergency personnel, call Center Reservation Manager at 908-208-7834.
  • Urgent Situations - If you encounter a situation that is not an emergency but you feel someone should be notified (cows on the Preserve, minor property damage, etc.), call the Preserve Director at 707-664-3416 or 707-536-8915 (cell) and leave a detailed message.
  • Galbreath Preserve Safety - Aalways visit the Preserve with at least one other person and let someone know where you will be so that if you do not return, they can contact emergency responders and the Preserve Director. Visitors are required to bring with them:
    • Preserve map
    • charged cell phone with emergency contact phone numbers
    • first aid kit
    • water. There is no potable water at the Galbreath Preserve. You must bring sufficient drinking water to meet the needs of all individuals in your group.

Additional Safety Information

Mountain lion, Puma concolor, occurs at all of the Center's preserves.

Mountain Lions

When there are recent sightings, we require that all visitors are accompanied by at least one other person. If you see a mountain lion, no matter how thrilling it may be, stay well back, and take the encounter seriously.

What you can do:

For more information:

Western black-legged tick, Ixodes pacificus, are particularly abundant at the Osborn Preserve.


Ticks occur at all of our preserves. At the Fairfield Osborn Preserve, they have been documented to carry Lyme’s disease and are seasonably very abundant. Lyme’s and other tick-borne diseases if not treated can lead to debilitating illnesses. The best prevention is to avoid being bitten.

What you can do:

  • During Your Visit - walk in the center of wide trails, cover exposed skin by wearing shoes, long pants, and long sleeves, and use insect repellent.
  • After Your Visit - check yourself and others for ticks. A tick can take at least 36 hours to transmit bacteria. If removed quickly, threat of infection plummets. Be vigilant – a tick is often no bigger than the head of a pin.
  • If You Get a Tick Bite - gently grasp near the tick at the mouth with tweezers and pull carefully without crushing. Apply antiseptic to the bite, contact your doctor, and monitor yourself for the signs and symptoms of Lyme's disease.
  • Identify the Tick - Of the 48 tick species in California, only the Western Black Legged Tick (WBLT) transmits Lyme disease. To have the tick identified, place the tick in a zip-lock bag along with a moistened tissue, and contact Marin/Sonoma Mosquito and Vector Control District (595 Helman Lane, Cotati, CA 94931; 1.800.231.3236). If the tick is a WBLT, there are several laboratories that can test the tick for Lyme disease. Tick testing may help your physician evaluate if you were exposed to the Lyme disease agent.

For more information:

  • Lyme Disease Brochure by Mosquito and Vector Control Association of California
  • Tick Management Handbook: An integrated guide for homeowners, pest control operators, and public health officials for the prevention of tick-associated disease Revised Edition Prepared by: Kirby C. Stafford III, Ph.D. Vice Director, Chief Entomologist Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, New Haven

Wild Boar/Feral Pig crosses of California have the typical large heads, and tusks (males) of their wild ancestors, but show a range of patterns in black, brown and white more typical of domestic pigs.

Feral Pigs

Feral pigs are common at the Galbreath Wildlands Preserve and commonly move in groups called sounders. Please take all encounters seriously.

Marc Kenyon, Statewide Coordinator for the Bear, Mountain Lion and Wild Pig Programs at the Department of Fish and Game, describes wild pigs as usually timid creatures that want to be left alone. However, they can be very aggressive if approached, especially if there are piglets nearby.

What you can do:

  • If you see a wild pig, stand still and do not approach it. Pigs are nearsighted and will tend to ignore objects that stand completely still.
  • Walk with the wind at your back. Pigs have a great sense of smell. If pigs can smell you. they will likely avoid you.
  • If you are approached by by a pig, back out of the area as quickly as possible. Make sure to stay away from its head. Pigs have sharp teeth that can cut through clothing.