Protecting California
Wildlife Habitat
The Wildlife Conservation Board (WCB) approved the allocation of a grant to the American Land Conservancy (ALC) to provide protection for more than 6,350 acres of wildlife habitat in Mono County.

The Board agreed to fund the $3.21 million cooperative Bridgeport Valley Conservation Easement project with the ALC, the California Department of Fish and Game (DFG), and the California Rangeland Trust.

The effort is designed to protect wildlife habitat while encouraging compatible agricultural practices on property located immediately west of Bridgeport. The property lies along the eastern slope of the Central Sierra Nevada mountain range in Bridgeport Valley, with U.S. Highway 395 along the north and the Toiyabe National Forest adjacent to the west.

The property is a combination of wet and dry irrigated pasture, and upland scrub that includes woody riparian and scattered forest habitat types. With maintaining irrigation on the property, the project will continue to support significant acres of wetland areas used by a variety of wetland-dependent species. Without protection, the streams and meadows of Bridgeport Valley will eventually be divided into small properties that will fragment the habitat and preclude active management for the benefit of the species. The property hosts a diversity of animal species and provides nesting and foraging by thousands of migrating waterfowl. Special status forest carnivores, including the state threatened wolverine and Sierra Nevada red fox, have been documented on and adjacent to the property.

Other significant action taken at the regularly scheduled August 22 meeting of the Board included:

• Petaluma Marsh Wildlife Area, Bahia Wetlands Unit ($4.52 million), Marin County – Approved the allocation of a grant to the Marin Audubon Society to assist in a cooperative project to purchase an estimated 645 acres located in the city of Novato. Other partners to the acquisition include the state Coastal Conservancy, Marin County Open Space District, Marin Community Foundation, and funds from the Marin Baylands Fund and the North American Wetlands Conservation Act. The project will help protect the blue oak woodland, salt marshes and habitat for numerous endangered species, and provide compatible public access for recreational opportunities.

The property is located near the mouth of the Petaluma River with topography from near sea level to hillsides covered with blue oaks and various other trees, shrubs and annual grasslands.

• Wetland Habitat Restoration ($25,000), Placer County – Approved the allocation of a grant to the California Waterfowl Association (CWA) for a cooperative project between CWA, the landowner, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, and WCB. The project will restore approximately 37 acres of wetland wildlife habitat, 10 acres of uplands, and 10 acres of irrigated pasture located five miles west of the city of Lincoln on land owned by Lincoln High School. The land is part of the school’s agricultural curriculum for students learning the latest agricultural practices. Most of the acreage will continue to be farmed in a variety of ways, from rice to pasture to irrigated cropland. The development of a small wetland in an agriculturally unproductive corner of the farm can show how waterfowl and other wetland dependent species can use these frequently flooded areas.

• Sierra Valley Conservation Area ($1.68 million), Plumas and Sierra counties – Approved the allocation of a grant to the California Rangeland Trust for a cooperative project with DFG, The Packard Foundation, Sierra Business Council, The Nature Conservancy and WCB. The project will acquire a conservation easement over approximately 13,110 acres, for the purposes of protecting wildlife habitat while encouraging compatible agricultural practices. The land is located in the eastern portion of Sierra Valley, approximately two miles north of the town of Loyalton. Sierra Valley supports unusually rich flora and fauna, and is located near two biogeographic regions, the Great Basin to the east, and the Cascade Mountains to the northwest.

• Point St. George Wetlands ($1.5 million), Del Norte County – Approved the allocation of a grant to Del Norte County for a cooperative project to acquire and allow for habitat enhancement on approximately 339 acres of wetlands, adjacent buffering uplands and coastal bluffs north of Crescent City. The property lies on the coast, about a mile northwest of Crescent City, bounded on the north by Tolowa Dunes State Park and DFG’s Lake Earl Wildlife Area, and on the east by the county airport. The acquisition would enhance the potential for public access to the coast. The property contains primarily freshwater wetlands with a willow and spruce swamp and some maritime forest habitats. These habitats support a wide range of sensitive and listed plant and bird species and provide wetland habitat for a number of water-associated species.

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