- 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?
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?
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?
What are the various land uses under the NBHCP?
When is your next Board meeting?
If you were to gaze into the eyes of the Great horned owl (Bubo virginianus) very long, you might be a victim of the old Jedi Mind Meld. This Great horned owl chick, born Spring 2020 on the Conservancy’s flagship BKS Preserve, could place a gaze on you like no other. Maybe that is what owl chicks do.
We are always so concerned when Great horned owl chicks drop out of the nest so early compared to our expectations and our experience with other species. However, we’ve learned that with a little patience (and no predators that escape its parents’ eyes), they almost always manage to get airborne after a short while. In the second photo, taken a week later, you can see evidence of that.
One final note: Great horned owls are powerful predators. It is amazing to behold their power and aggressiveness when it comes to hunting. But when we see chicks such as this one, with all their furry appearance, it is hard to believe they will mature into such a powerful hunter.
The great paradox of restoration ecology, and the work that the Conservancy does, is that the refuges and sanctuaries we design, build and manage are created for the benefit of wildlife. The theory is that as wildlife is displaced by urbanization, they need a safe place to retreat to. When our work is evaluated, one key success criterion is whether or not a preserve is populated with the NBHCP’s Covered Species. In other words, if it is successful, its biological richness would be apparent.
And so it goes with the Conservancy’s preserves. The preserves are, in fact, biologically rich. That has been proven. But not all species find unconditional refuge and sanctuary on them. In fact, many meet their end on them. They become prey to the predator. And the predators shown in these photographs indicate that the raptors do most of the dirty work.
We could have featured a Giant garter snake (Thamnophis gigas) taking prey (see prior Blog post titled “Big Gulp”) and many others. But here we feature raptors. The reason: they are the most predatory on the preserves, at least from what we see on a regular basis.
There is ambivalence about this. We don’t like to think of the Conservancy’s preserves as being host to a beautiful animal meeting an untimely end. But, as one young U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist strongly advised me early in my career – if predators aren’t finding sustenance on Conservancy mitigation lands, then we have failed. She was (and is) right, of course.
All the photos attached in this post were taken recently on The Conservancy’s preserves.
Here we have a Red-tail hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) taking an American coot (Fulica americana) off the Conservancy’s flagship reserve, the BKS Tract.
There are times when one hates to see this, and then there is the realization that if it’s not happening, the ecosystem just isn’t working right. As it turns out, in this case, one species that is over populated on Conservancy preserves, the coot, has become a meal for the Red-tail hawk, which, while common, is definitely not in over-population. Nature has its way of trying to balance things out.
One especially interesting aspect of this recent captured moment is just how expansive the Red-tail hawk’s wings are here. It is amazing that when they have a load underwing, in this case, prey, the depth and breadth of the wing seems to get larger than otherwise. In this photo, this is very well documented.
On the Conservancy’s flagship preserve, a couple of daredevil raccoons have scaled and occupied a lookout post that looks a little dangerous to us. Are they sentries for others? Afraid of an “alpha” in their tribe? Banished from their tribe? Or just playing?
This is so amazing. In the middle of one of the Conservancy’s preserves, in broad daylight, these two scale heights not seen before. Why? And how did they get down?
In this photo, we show the perfect situation for water’s edge vegetation management. The photo, taken today on the Conservancy’s flagship preserve, shows goats grazing on bankside vegetation.
Why I said “perfect” in the lead for this post has to do with the fact that for all the grazing goats do on this type of vegetation, other means can be avoided. That includes the use of heavier footed animals (e.g., cattle), which could crush Giant garter snake burrows and which leave pockets for mosquito larvae to thrive. Also, larger animals deposit heftier “leavings” that tends to get pretty nasty over time. Alternatively, we could use herbicides, but we try to avoid that as much as possible, although in the world of aquatic weed management, sometime this is unavoidable. And humans could get in these areas with string trimmers and similar equipment to keep vegetation under control, but then we have worker safety issues.
Our experience is that goats consider this type of vegetation as candy, so to speak, and they typically go to it first. Importantly, the green food pictured here consists of about 90 percent water, so there are some nutrition deficits. The goats must have upland vegetation nearby to make certain a full range of nutrition is available.
Our desire is that the Conservancy gets scaled to a point where it can have a permanent herd of goats on its own, and circulate them through the marsh complexes in a sequence that makes for a perfect condition for the management and care of critical habitat for several of the Conservancy’s “Covered Species.” That’s our hope anyway. Goat hope.
In this instance, four Giant garter snakes (Thamnophis gigas) were spotted in rocked spillway on a Conservancy managed marsh complex. Seeing this many Giant garter snakes, especially in one place is an extremely rare occurrence.
(Conservancy staff photos on Conservancy mitigation land in 2018.)
This is notice of a regular meeting of the Board of Directors of The Natomas Basin Conservancy on Wednesday, August 5, 2020 at 4:00 p.m. The meeting will be held electronically. See agenda for link to meeting.
This is a notice of a meeting of the Compensation and Governance Committee of the Board of Directors of The Natomas Basin Conservancy on Tuesday, August 4, 2020 at 4:30 pm. The meeting will be held virtually. See agenda for link to attend.
This is notice of a regular meeting of the Board of Directors of The Natomas Basin Conservancy on Wednesday, June 3, 2020 at 4:00 p.m. The meeting will be held electronically. See agenda for link to meeting.
This is a notice of a meeting of the Audit Committee of The Natomas Basin Conservancy on Wednesday, June 3, 2020 at 3:00 pm. The meeting has been cancelled.
This is a notice of a meeting of the Compensation and Governance Committee of the Board of Directors of The Natomas Basin Conservancy on Monday, June 1, 2020 at 4:00 pm. The meeting will be held telephonically.
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.”