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.


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.

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

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.

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

(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.)


In suspension

View an enlarged image of a Giant garter snake(April 26, 2019) Giant garter snakes are known to be elusive. They never “pose” for a photo. They are “escape artists,” especially when approached. The photos we most often see of them are taken as they are swimming away in a marsh or wetland, quickly disappearing out of view.

Even more rare, we see Giant garter snakes blended in a tule thicket. They blend in pretty nicely in shape and color so even when they are there, they are hard to see. And when they feel the need to evade the heights of a cluster of tule, their escape is most often an artful drop into the below. Gravity essential does much of the escape work for them in such cases. In this photo, we see a Giant garter snake working its way through one of the Conservancy’s marsh complexes high up into a thicket of tule.

Maybe this cold-blooded animal is trying to warm up its blood so that it can move faster and further. Maybe it has a need to solarize its skin for dermatology health. Maybe it is elevated in an attempt to get a viewing vantage point. Whatever the reason, this individual couldn’t escape the quick trigger-finger of our Conservancy staff member and his camera. Busted! Here is a rare photo of an important part of the Giant garter snake’s life. It is officially photo-documented.

Public Notices

October 2, 2019 Compensation & Governance Committee 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 Wednesday, October 2, 2019 at 3:00 pm. The meeting will be held at the Conservancy’s office, 2150 River Plaza Drive, Suite 460, Sacramento, California.

Click here to view the October 2, 2019 Compensation and Governance Committee Meeting Agenda

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.