1. Call to Order of the Regular Meeting of the Board of Directors
The Board Chair will call the meeting to order if a quorum is present. Announcements by the Board Chair or Executive Director may be made at this time. Board members may make announcements at this time as well.
2. Public Comments
Opportunity for members of the public to address the Conservancy’s Board of Directors.
3. Approval of the minutes
*All items listed under the Consent Calendar, including minutes, are considered and acted upon by one Motion. Any Board member may request an item be removed for separate consideration.*
The Board Chair will request approval of the minutes and consent items of the Board of Directors meeting of October 3, 2018
4. Authorization for Farm Air to utilize landing strip on TNBC’s Bianchi West tract
The only remaining agricultural aircraft operator in the Natomas Basin is Farm Air Flying Service, Inc. TNBC and its tenants use Farm Air, and without the firm operating in the Basin, costs would likely rise, and delays in planting crops could also result. (Rice is frequently seeded by air.) Farm Air has requested permission to use TNBC’s Bianchi West tract landing strip for use in serving its customers, including TNBC and its tenants.
Before acquiring the Bianchi West tract, TNBC completed Phase One and Phase Two environmental testing on the airstrip. This was done in order to ascertain the level, if any, of toxicants in the soil at the landing strip site. (The studies revealed acceptable levels, so TNBC moved forward with its acquisition of the tract.) With this baseline data, TNBC can keep track of the status of soils on and around the runway.
Staff requests authorization to enter into an agreement with Farm Air Flying Service, Inc. to allow it to utilize TNBC’s Bianchi West landing strip. The authorization would include the following restrictions, among others:
- the authorization terminates December 31, 2019,
- only seed and fertilizer are permitted to be used on the landing strip,
- no pesticides may be used on the strip without the written authorization of TNBC’s Executive Director,
- only in-Basin sites may be served by Farm Air from the landing strip, and
- a properly executed agreement must be in TNBC’s office prior to Farm Air’s use of the landing strip, and that the agreement contain TNBC’s standard indemnification, hold harmless protections, and that TNBC be named as an additional insured on the relevant Farm Air insurance policy or policies.
The Executive Director expects no authorization request for pesticide use on the landing strip. However, there could be special occasions that might warrant such authorization, but only for the use by TNBC or its contractors and tenants.
5. Native grass planting on TNBC and SAFCA properties
Due to poor soil conditions for planting Swainson’s hawk-friendly crops on certain Conservancy property, staff plans to plant native grass on the TNBC Cummings and SAFCA Sharma and AKT tracts. The grass seed planting and one year of maintenance budget for TNBC will not exceed $10,000. SAFCA has approved the planting of native grass on property the Conservancy manages for it, with all expenses paid by SAFCA. Approximately $10,000 is the seeding estimate for SAFCA properties.
6. 2019 SAFCA farming leases
The following property leases including grower and terms have been approved by SAFCA and are now submitted to Conservancy Board for ratification;
Dennis Bastiao – Novak, upland crop, $50/acre
Rich Weiss – Pappa Rosa and South Sutter, hay, 15% of gross sale proceeds
Bill Charter – Hewitt, hay, 12% of gross sale
Bill Charter – Willey, tomato, $250/acre or 10% of gross sale proceeds.
7. 2019 TNBC rice lease extensions
The following properties were excluded from the rice lease RFP process due to previous arrangements that were made at the purchase of these properties which have allowed for these growers to maintain the leases under the same terms as they have on the remainder of the tracts farmed. Management recommends approval.
Kurt Bianchi – Bianchi West and Frazer South, rice, 212 acres, $270/acre
Brian McKenzie – Silva South, rice, 29 acres, $225/acre
8. 2019 TNBC non-rice lease extensions
The following properties are non-rice lease agreements which provide upland crop habitat for the benefit of Swainson’s hawk. Management recommends approval.
Alan Lauppe – Bolen South and Huffman West, hay and alfalfa rotation, $50/acre and $100/acre respectively
Dennis Bastiao – Rosa East / Rosa Central and Alleghany, wheat and row crop, $50/acre
Bill Charter – Souza, hay, 12% of gross sale proceeds
9. 2019 NBHCP Finance Model and 2019 budget
The proposed 2019 Conservancy budget is presented to the Board for adoption. A draft of the 2019 Conservancy budget was shared with the Board at the October 2018 Board of Directors meetings for review and discussion.
The Conservancy proposed 2019 budget is integrated with the NBHCP Finance Model, so that the document submitted for action is one document. The consolidation of the two documents was introduced in 2007 with the intention of reducing the chance of differing budget numbers and because of the consistency it afforded.
The matter of reserves for property taxes has been a substantial issue for the NBHCP Finance Model calculation over the last several years. This year, the Conservancy made no change in the following assumptions with respect to the Williamson Act’s impact on Conservancy-held property:
1. The State of California’s Williamson Act subventions to counties remains unfunded or largely unfunded in this and future State budgets.
2. Counties with which the Conservancy has Williamson Act contracts (Sacramento and Sutter) make no additional change to existing contracts.
3. Counties permit no newly-acquired properties to be enrolled in Williamson Act contracts and to enjoy the property tax benefits such participation affords.
4. All new properties acquired by the Conservancy for HCP mitigation purposes enjoy no Williamson Act property tax protection and are assessed at their full value at the time of acquisition.
5. Sutter County’s Williamson Act contracts are reduced by 10 percent.
The fee is substantially influenced by land prices. The recommended fee, as proposed by Conservancy staff, is supported by work done by Stephen Harrington, MAI, updated for 2018. Harrington estimates the range for mitigation land acquisition in 2019 is $20,000 to $25,000 per acre.
The price estimate for future-acquired mitigation land is based on an assumption contained in the NBHCP Finance Model. The NBHCP requires that the Conservancy purchase mitigation land within 12 months of demand. There are no exceptions or extensions provided for. So, the Conservancy’s estimate for mitigation land acquisition costs are based on a “looking forward” methodology, while appraisal valuations are typically based on recent historical valuations.
Given the difference between the 2018 and 2019 NBCHP Finance Models is small ($29 per acre more for 2019), management recommends no change in the mitigation fee for 2019.
The Board is asked to:
- approve the proposed 2019 Conservancy Budget;
- accept the 2019 NBHCP Finance Model recalculation; and
- adopt a resolution to be submitted to the City of Sacramento requesting no change be made in the NBHCP Mitigation Fee of $33,091 per developed acre and $21,841 per developed acre with land dedication (see attached resolution).
This item anticipates that should Sutter County express an interest in initiating its use of the NBHCP’s Incidental Take Permit acres, an identical resolution is approved for it as well, changing out only the City of Sacramento references to County of Sutter references.
This item has been updated.
10. Draft Environmental Impact Report, Paso Verde School
The Natomas Unified School District (NUSD) has proposed to locate a school nearly adjacent to the Conservancy’s Fisherman’s Lake Reserve Area. Conservancy staff has communicated on a number of occasions with the consultants preparing the EIR on behalf of the NUSD.
The school siting so close to Conservancy preserves is challenging. Not only is land committed to agriculture being urbanized, but it is bringing the urban-rural fringe closer to the preserves. Moreover, hundreds of school children will be in the area on a regular basis, and there will be school busses and parental drop-offs and pick-ups in large numbers as well.
In addition to the matter of land remaining in agriculture, there is little accommodation for the historic Swainson’s hawk nests on the east shore of Fisherman’s Lake and which Sacramento City Council determined needed protection via a 300-foot buffer. There is no discussion in the EIR as to how to mitigate or soften the impact of traffic and school activity on the NBHCP’s Covered Species other than simple notes about the effects not being great (this is a generalization).
The mitigation proposed is a one-for-one mitigation ratio (acres of school impact for 18 acres of mitigation land) where alfalfa will be permanently grown. Yet alfalfa is never grown year-after-year, at least not in a general and larger sense, and there may be times when alfalfa is uneconomical or for some agronomic reason cannot be grown. No indication is noted as to how the 18 acres of mitigation land will be managed. Finally, citing NWF v. Norton, it indicates that the federal court determined that no other jurisdictions are required to keep the implementation of the NBHCP successful, therefore the project should advance. However, the court’s decision was predicated on land remaining in agriculture.
Conservancy staff will ask the Board for guidance on whether it should file comments on the matter.
11. Board member request for video recording of future Board of Directors meetings
Board member Jill Leal has filed a request to the Board Chair for the Board to approve video recordings of Conservancy Board meetings.
12. Michael J. Arnold & Associates contract review
Pursuant to the Board’s previous action, the government affairs contract with Michael J. Arnold & Associates is up for review and discussion.
13. City of Sacramento report
Report from the City of Sacramento regarding HCP-related activity and other topics.
14. Financial statement review
Financial statements will be provided for the period ended October 31, 2018 (unaudited). Additional financial information will be provided.
15. Executive Director’s Report
Various matters for Board members’ general information will be presented by the Conservancy’s Executive Director.
16. Executive Session
Executive session is scheduled for real estate.
Official adjournment of the meeting.