The Conservancy is obligated to document activity on the preserves. It is assisted with its photo documentation responsibilites by some very good photographers, skilled in landscape and wildlife photography. We introduce them here…
New Board member appointed by the City of Sacramento
Chandra Chilmakuri appointed to the Conservancy’s Board of Directors.
The Conservancy acquires and manages land for the purpose of meeting the objectives of the Natomas Basin Habitat Conservation Plan.
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.
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.
- Apply principles of sound science in the creation and management of habitat reserves.
- Review and focus on the NBHCP long-term finance model to insure the Conservancy is financially capable of fully performing its plan operator responsibilities.
- 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 natomasbasin.org/education/the-nbhcp-species.
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?
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.
( October 20, 2016) Featured with this post is probably one of the last good photos of a Giant garter snake for the year. As the cooler weather sets in, these cold-blooded animals will be going into “brumation.” Brumation is the word biologists use to describe the hibernation-like state the snakes adopt to over-winter.
So seeing this photo, you can see that the weather isn’t quite cool enough for them to take on a winter slumber. But we expect with cooler weather setting in, this will change.
This photo is included in this blog post because it is typical. That is, if you are curious about how Giant garter snakes are typically spotted by our biologists and field crews, this is pretty typical. In this photo, this Giant garter snake is obviously going somewhere. It is on the move, you could say. We also often see them in the water lying in wait for passing prey.
So, when you view this photo, you will get an idea of how we usually see this important NBHCP “Covered Species.”
(October 5, 2016) It may seem strange that peppers are grown on some of the Conservancy’s mitigation ground (see photo). But there is a reason. First is that the ground these papers were planted on normally supports alfalfa. And alfalfa is the preferred crop for foraging Swanson’s hawks.
We’ve had some successful alfalfa crops on this particular field (where the photo was taken), even though the soil types wouldn’t support alfalfa before the Conservancy acquired it. But as a part of a marsh restoration project, top soil was removed from an adjacent parcel and mounded up on this one. We’ve had eight years of alfalfa since then, so we’re declaring success.
But soils need a break sometimes. And after four- or five-years of existence, alfalfa needs a break for certain agronomic reasons. So, four or five years in alfalfa and one year out. We use that year, in this case, to grow peppers.
Moreover, there will be leftover peppers in the field after these peppers are harvested. These are peppers that are damaged or imperfect and can’t win consumer acceptance. Left in the field post-harvest, they afford a free meal for meadow mice, which are the Swanson’s hawk’s favored prey.
So peppers fit the bill, do double duty, and besides, bring some color to the Conservancy’s fields!
Rice prices are at historic lows, but quality appears to be very good this year. This will be a nice harvest.
The side benefit to rice harvest is rice that is lost to the harvester. What is lost to the harvester and left on the ground is a major food source for the Swainson’s hawk’s favorite prey (meadow mice). If these rodents fatten up on the leftovers (that is, unharvested rice) they’d have bigger, healthier litters. That will likely result in more food for raptors. Chief among them, of course, for Conservancy purposes, is the Swanson’s hawk.
Oh, and California rice IS the most delicious in the world for people as well. Looks like everyone wins!
(September 12, 2016) Here is a great shot that supports our contention that we now have Pacific pond turtles (formerly called Northwestern pond turtles) on all of the Conservancy’s managed marsh complexes.
Photographed on one of the Conservancy’s preserves last week, this is an excellent image showing the colorful creature, which is one of the NBHCP’s “Covered Species.”
We are so pleased that another water-dependent at-risk species has now colonized and found sanctuary on Conservancy mitigation lands. (Photograph: Conservancy field staff.)
Today’s photos of Giant garter snakes on Conservancy preserves raise the thought about just how stealthy this aquatic animal can be. Here, one our stars weaves its way through duck weed as it seeks prey or perhaps attempts to conceal itself from predators itself. This is fascinating stuff.
I post this one not just to show the beauty of this creature, but rather, to simply say that this year more than ever, we are seeing a very diverse mixture of raptors on Conservancy property. Yes, way beyond the NBHCP’s “Covered Species.” It’s a broad check list. The featured raptor here is just one of many. We can surmise that if there are a lot of raptors on the preserves, there must be a lot of prey. Mostly meadow mice.
Here is one theory: there are two factors at play. One is that with the maturity of the marsh complexes, along with the associated uplands, they are simply becoming more established habitat for a diverse population of wildlife.
The second is that we had some pretty good rainfall this past winter after several years of extremely low precipitation. Perhaps this more normalized winter rain moistened up the soil to the extent where prey begets prey. By that, I mean that the mice eat the grains from the grasses that grew more richly and abundantly (largely because of more moisture) and as the mice fattened up, they had more productive litters. And thus more prey for the raptors. This is all theory. Whatever the cause, we are liking the results!
This is notice of a regular meeting of the Board of Directors of The Natomas Basin Conservancy on Wednesday, October 5, 2016 at 4:00 p.m. The meeting will be held at The Natomas Basin Conservancy, 2150 River Plaza Dr., Sacramento, California, First Floor, Large Conference Room.
This is a notice of a meeting of the Compensation and Governance Committee of the Board of Directors of The Natomas Basin Conservancy on Thursday, September 15, 2016 at 3:30 pm. The meeting will be held at the Conservancy’s office, 2150 River Plaza Drive, Suite 460, Sacramento, California.
This is notice of a regular meeting of the Board of Directors of The Natomas Basin Conservancy on Wednesday, August 3, 2016 at 4:00 p.m. The meeting will be held at The Natomas Basin Conservancy, 2150 River Plaza Dr., Sacramento, California, First Floor, Large Conference Room.
This is a notice of a meeting of the Compensation and Governance Committee of the Board of Directors of The Natomas Basin Conservancy on Friday, August 3, 2016 at 3:00 pm. The meeting will be held at the Conservancy’s office, 2150 River Plaza Drive, Suite 460, Sacramento, California.
This is notice of a regular meeting of the Board of Directors of The Natomas Basin Conservancy on Wednesday, June 1, 2016 at 4:00 p.m. The meeting will be held at The Natomas Basin Conservancy, 2150 River Plaza Dr., Sacramento, California, First Floor, Large Conference Room.
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!
“In essence, the Conservancy provides refuge and sanctuary for wildlife displaced by urban activity in the Natomas Basin. Annual biological monitoring by independent third parties demonstrates wildlife is thriving on Conservancy-owned mitigation land.”