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.
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.
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.)
(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.)
(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.
In 2003, the Conservancy planted 30 cottonwood trees on one of its interior Natomas Basin preserves, hoping that at least 15 would survive and end up being Swainson’s hawk nesting trees.
We planted the trees in a cluster so that any Swainson’s hawks that nested in them would have a 360-degree view of their surroundings, something the experts told us was important. The goal was to have the 15 or more surviving trees mature enough for nesting in 20 years, and used for nesting purposes soon after.
Here we are 16 years later. Two dozen of the trees survive, exceeding expectations, and most importantly, Swainson’s hawk experts now advise that we have an active nest this year. Management and staff at the Conservancy are doing a proverbial “happy dance” over this development. It is proof that planting trees, the appropriate trees for the Swainson’s hawk and for the specific soil type, is important. So is the annual care of the trees as is a good deal of patience.
As later classes of Conservancy-planted trees mature elsewhere in the Natomas Basin, we are hopeful that they too will provide nesting opportunities for this NBHCP Covered Species. Now we have proof that thoughtful planting and care of trees can make a positive difference.
Listed as the number one worst invasive species by the Western Governor’s Association in the category of aquatics is Eurasian watermilfoil (Myriophyllum spicatum).
Eurasian watermilfoil was even at the top of the list when carp, hydrilla, golden algae, water hyacinth and nutria were included! That’s some serious competition.
We can attest to what the Western Governor’s Association is saying. Eurasian watermilfoil has on occasion compromised the Conservancy’s ability to keep managed marsh complexes fully functional. See photos here showing the weed on Conservancy mitigation land.
The Natomas Basin Habitat Conservation Plan (NBHCP) is clear that the managed marsh complexes used for NBHCP mitigation must be fully functional. When we find the pest, we marshal a team of experts to try to deal with it.
But it is a serious challenge. We consider it the Conservancy’s number one weed challenge at this point. Let’s hope the top billing on the Western Governor’s Association list will similarly mobilize regional and state officials to re-double efforts on this problem weed.
(May 18, 2018) Sometimes we get questions about the strange appearance of the eyes of some of the Giant garter snakes we feature in Conservancy media. Some say it looks like something out of a horror film (AKA “scary movie”).
It normally looks like a filmy-looking cover over the eyes, at least in some of the photographs we share.
Actually, this is what is called a nictitating membrane, or, as some would say, third eyelid. Usually, it is considered to be transparent, and enables the animal to continue to see while protecting or moisturizing the eye.
And Giant garter snakes aren’t the only animals in the Natomas Basin that have this nictitating eye lid. Fish, amphibians and some birds are among the creatures that have it. There are many beavers in the Natomas Basin, and they have them as well, although they are thought to be clear. Bald eagles too.
So, don’t be afraid. When you see this, it is normal. At least for our friends on the Conservancy preserves and many other places in the natural world.
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, April 3, 2019 at 3 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, April 3, 2019 at 4:00 p.m. The meeting will be held at The Natomas Basin Conservancy, 2150 River Plaza Dr., Sacramento, California, third floor suite 380.
This is a notice of a meeting of the Audit Committee of The Natomas Basin Conservancy on Tuesday, March 27, 2019 at 12:00 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, February 6, 2019 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 Finance Committee of the Board of Directors of The Natomas Basin Conservancy on Wednesday, February 6, 2019 at 3:00 pm. The meeting will be held at the Natomas Basin Conservancy office, 2150 River Plaza Drive, Suite 460, Sacramento, California.
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.”