News

New land acquisition

The latest Conservancy land acquisition, the “Richter tract," adds 80 acres to the organization’s Central Basin Reserve Area. This is the portion of the Natomas Basin where rice production is the dominant land use. “This is a perfect acquisition for the Conservancy,”...

Research on the NBHCP’s “Covered Species”

Occasionally the Conservancy participates in or is made aware of research that is specific to the NBHCP’s “Covered Species.” While the resources listed here are not intended to be comprehensive, they are noteworthy in that they have helped the Conservancy more...

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.

FAQs

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?


916.649.3331

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.

Lunch Time

Lunch Time

Swainsons hawk swooping down on prey.

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 wildlife. The theory is that as wildlife is ever more displaced by urbanization, they need a safe place to retreat to. And yet, when our work is evaluated, one key success criteria is whether or not the preserve that has been set aside and enhanced or restored, is populated with the species in need. 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 refuge and sanctuary on them. In fact, many meet their end on them. They become prey to the predator. And the predator show in these photographs indicate that the raptors do most of the dirty work. We could have featured a Giant garter snake (Thamnophis gigs) 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.

Red shoulder hawk with prey.Raptor with prey.

All the photos attached in this post were taken recently on The Conservancy’s preserves. 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.

It happens.

It happens.

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.

High wire act

High wire act

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?

Chewy

Chewy

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.

A remarkable find

A remarkable find

(May 9, 2019) Species covered by the Natomas Basin Habitat Conservation Plan (NBHCP) such as the Giant garter snake were abundant in 2018.

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.)

 

Hollywood star on Conservancy preserve

Hollywood star on Conservancy preserve

(April 30, 2019) The photo that accompanies this story was taken the day the movie “Avengers: End Game” was released. The movie set a record for ticket sales: $1 billion, just for the opening weekend.

One of the stars of the movie, Rocket Raccoon, was apparently overwhelmed by the attention and needed respite, which he found on the Conservancy’s preserves over the weekend. This photo shows him standing, with hands in repose, just as he did in numerous scenes in the Avengers movie.

We are told that he was also volunteering to assist fellow raccoons who did not have the same level of stardom, and so was lending a hand to them as they found their way through life on the Conservancy’s preserves.

(Editor’s Note: While we are not exactly sure that the raccoon in this photo has anything to do with the Avenger’s star named Rocket, and in fact wonder a bit whether this has a place in a science-based organization like the Conservancy, we can confirm that the photograph that accompanies this story is authentic, and was in fact taken on Conservancy preserves, and that the pose is real. The photo was not altered.)

 

Public Notices

April Board Meeting Cancelled

Due to the Sacramento County / State of California stay-in-place orders to reduce the spread of COVID-19, the Conservancy’s regularly scheduled April 1st Board of Directors meeting has been cancelled. The Conservancy’s Board is next scheduled to meet on June 3 at 4:00 pm.

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.