New appointments to the Conservancy’s Board of Directors

The City of Sacramento has appointed two new members to the Conservancy’s Board of Directors. It also re-appointed a third member to a renewed term. Former City Council member Steve Cohn and former City of Sacramento City Manager John Shirey were appointed to the...

Featured Photographers


New Board member appointed by the City of Sacramento


Our Mission

The Conservancy acquires and manages land for the purpose of meeting the objectives of the Natomas Basin Habitat Conservation Plan.

Our Vision

The Conservancy envisions implementing the NBHCP in a manner that successfully meets the Plan’s biological goals, makes efficient use of fee payer funding, and facilitates permit holder activities covered under the Plan over the long term.

Our Goal

The Conservancy will maintain itself as an effective organization, and will at all times be capable of serving as the Natomas Basin Habitat conservation Plan’s plan operator.

Our Objectives

  1. Apply principles of sound science in the creation and management of habitat reserves.
  2. Review and focus on the NBHCP long-term finance model to insure the Conservancy is financially capable of fully performing its plan operator responsibilities.
  3. Seek opportunities to help insure the long-term persistence of species covered under the NBHCP.


What does the Conservancy do?

Each and every day, the Conservancy provides sanctuary and refuge to species displaced by urbanization in the Natomas Basin. By acquiring land, converting or restoring it to habitat, and then managing that land in perpetuity, the Conservancy conducts “mitigation.” This is a process by which urban development impacts are offset via the acquisition, restoration, enhancement and perpetual management of habitat lands.

More formally, the authorizing documents which guide the Conservancy’s program of work note the Conservancy is the “plan operator” of the Natomas Basin Habitat Conservation Plan (NBHCP) and the Metro Air Park Habitat Conservation Plan (MAPHCP). The purpose of the HCPs is “to promote biological conservation along with economic development and the continuation of agriculture within the Natomas Basin.”

How do I mitigate for an urban development project?

Implementation of the Natomas Basin Habitat Conservation Plan (NBHCP) and Metro Air Park Habitat Conservation plan (MAPHCP) provides mitigation for urban development in the Natomas Basin by establishing a system of reserves composed of managed marsh, uplands habitat, and rice farms. Acceptable mitigation under the HCPs requires maintenance of a 0.5-to-1 mitigation ratio. That is, for each one acre of habitat disturbed, one-half acre of mitigation land must be provided for.

For details on specific project mitigation, please see the Conservancy’s project mitigation page.

Can I visit the Conservancy’s preserves?

The incidental take permits issued by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and California Department of Fish and Wildlife do not authorize or cover incidental take resulting from public use, access, or recreation on the Conservancy’s mitigation preserves. The permits in essence designate mitigation land solely as refuges and sanctuaries for “Covered Species” displaced by urban development and activity.

The public may view many of the preserves in Natomas from public roads. With a Conservancy “base map” in hand, viewing points from preserve land perimeters are available.

What are the species covered under the HCPs?

The Conservancy is charged with providing and managing habitat for 22 “Covered Species” as noted in the NBHCP and MAPHCP. These Covered Species are cataloged in a publication produced by the Conservancy, free and readily available on the Conservancy’s web site at

What are the various land uses under the NBHCP?

The HCPs provide for a general division of habitat types within the Conservancy’s system of reserves as follows: 25% managed marsh; 50% rice production; and, 25% upland habitat.

How can I connect with the Conservancy?


2150 River Plaza Drive
Suite 460
Sacramento, CA 95833

When is your next Board meeting?

With minor exception, the Conservancy’s Board of Directors meets on the first Wednesday of each month. Please check the Conservancy’s Board Meeting page for meeting notices and agendas.

Honey do

(August 17, 2017) On Conservancy preserves, we occasionally grow sunflowers as a rotation crop on land we use for Swanson’s hawk foraging. We had no idea that honey bees would like this so much.

You’ve all read how important honey bees are, and even though they are not and NBHCP “Covered Species,”  I have to say we are very proud to be doing this in their favor. Plus, let’s face it, this is beautiful.

On the top photo here, see the black specks in the flower of the sunflower. These are honeybees. You can see a close-up in the middle photo.


(July 13, 2017)  First, this photo, taken today on the Conservancy’s BKS preserve, is of one of the largest great- horned owls I have ever seen.

There are at least five of them on that one preserve, which leads one to conclude there must be a rich and abundant prey base there to support that many of these large predators.

This is a positive sign. However, we have also found that where we have these large populations of great-horned owls, we cannot get one of the two NBHCP “Covered Species,” the Swanson’s hawk, to nest anywhere near. There is, one suspects, a fear factor. Easy to understand.

So, this gives me license to make a comment at the expense of this majestic animal. And that is that my first reaction in seeing it was that it looks like Al Lewis on the old television series The Munsters.

Is this anthropomorphism? I don’t know. But it is ambivalence.  Let me explain.  In one sense, it is affirming that these large animals have found a home on Conservancy preserves where they didn’t occupy the area before. That says a lot about the richness of what the Conservancy has created. But it is also that as long as these great-horned owls are present at the site, we’re not likely to see it be home to beloved Swanson’s hawks. Truly mixed emotions here.

Button, button, who’s got the button?

(June 29, 2017)  Often asked if I have favorites on the Conservancy’s preserves, I usually state that all is beautiful and that all the flora and fauna are important.

But honestly, every year at button willow blossoming time, my will power vanishes and I have to confess to a favorite. The photo here captures it well, the button willow that is.

The Conservancy has some button willow shrubs in near-marsh locations at the Conservancy’s flagship preserve, BKS. They are spectacular. It is hard to walk past a button willow plant in bloom and not stop and take it in. At the right time, they are also a hot spot for honey bees. That is sweet as well! We need to plant some more.

Bald is Beautiful

Bald eagle 050217(May 2, 2017)  Yes, we’ve had Bald eagles in the Natomas Basin before, but rarely. We know they are seen more often the further north one travels. But sightings this far south, and in the Natomas Basin, are not at all common.

Now, we have numerous photo-documented occurrences of a Bald eagle on Conservancy preserves this year. Is it looking for a nest? Wouldn’t that be great? We are trying to stay clear so we don’t inadvertently disturb it. The photo shown here was taken by Conservancy staff with a telephoto lens.

While the Bald eagle is not one of NBHCP’s Covered Species, the fact that it continues to make regular visits to Conservancy preserves is a reflection of the healthy maturity of the preserves and very likely, nesting and prey opportunities. There is some concern that it could roust Swanson’s hawks from nesting sites. But all in all, we like having diversity on this preserve, and having this majestic animal making regular visits on them is a treat.

Aeronautical engineers: take note

Egret (March 16, 2017)  Regarding this photo, taken this morning on the Conservancy’s flagship preserve (“BKS”), we have a question.  Or maybe what we have is simple wonderment. That is, why aren’t more aircraft designed this way?

I mean with wings elevated significantly higher than the fuselage, er, I mean, body? And with wingspans that are longer than the body itself.  It’s a beautiful thing.

They’re Back!!!

Burrowing owl 12017 DSC_0198(March 8, 2017)  Those cute little Burrowing owls. Over the years, I’ve posted on this blog on a couple of occasions that I am often asked which is my favorite of all the NBHCP’s Covered Species. My first thought when responding to this question is the Burrowing owl. They’ve been with the Conservancy from the beginning, with only periodic absences. And they are, by my estimation, the most gregarious and outgoing of them all. Some might say simply, “cute.”

The Conservancy has invested in Burrowing owl enhancements, and the photos here show one of the areas where we’ve invested. In cooperation with the Natomas Central Mutual Water Company, we added approximately 4,100 cubic yards of soil on to a Water Company highline irrigation structure in the Conservancy’s Central Basin Reserve Area. This bulked it up, and then by adding holes into the embankment, we hoped to give the owls an idea: hey, this might be a good place to nest! They loved it and have become regulars on this particular facility.

In another experiment, we followed the guidelines then in circulation for installing Burrowing owl nesting areas boxes. Lots of underground pipe, risers, boxes, and built-up area. It’s been years and unhappily, no Burrowing owl activity.

In yet another experiment, we used a mound area where we’d seen Burrowing owl activity and then with grazing animals, mowers and choppers, we kept the vegetation height down in the vicinity of the Burrowing owl nests. This, we believed, helped them keep an eye out for predators, and worked as well. But ultimately, coyotes discovered this area, and in a battle between a Burrowing owl and a coyote, the Burrowing owl is almost always the loser.

What we’ve learned from this is that among other things, sometimes simpler is often better. We first got this notion from local avian biologist Jim Estep. (Jim is also on the Conservancy’s biological effectiveness monitoring team.) We’ve adapted that slightly to state that simpler is often better, but that the best solution is to keep trying solutions. Experimentation is key. So, we’ll keep doing just that, and hope we continue to find more successes like this year’s re-occupation of a portion of the Conservancy’s Central Basin Reserve Area, where these photos of one of our favorite NBHCP Covered Species were recently taken.

Public Notices

Learn about the NBHCP Covered Species

We created a guide to be used as an educational tool for field personnel, consultants, and researchers and anyone with an interest in the Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP). The guide provides detail about each of the 22 plant and animal species “covered” by the Natomas Basin Conservancy. Please download and spread the word!

Common Downloads

Here is a selection of some of the Conservancy’s most requested pdfs. If you can’t find what you’re looking for here, please check other sections of the website, including Helpful Documents, Public Notices, Project Mitigation, Education or About Us.