It seems hard to believe. It was in the spring of 1999 that the Conservancy was first staffed. Now, 10 years later, we have about 4,200 acres of land held for purposes of protecting 22 species “covered” under the Natomas Basin Habitat Conservation Plan (NBHCP). A lot of people helped set this up even before the organization was staffed. And two City of Sacramento mayors, Anne Rudin and Heather Fargo, appointed Board members to the Conservancy’s Board of Directors over this time. Later (beginning in 2003), Sutter County’s Board of Supervisors appointed Board members as well. The key to the Conservancy’s success, clearly, has been the quality of the people who have served on the Board over the years. Each and every one has been dedicated and diligent in their service to the Conservancy and the NBHCP. All must be thanked for their service.
Essential to the Conservancy’s success has been the dedicated support of the California Department of Fish and Game and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Both agencies are so busy, I have wondered how they’ve been able to set things aside and give us their attention when it was needed. But they did, and they do. Not just one or two people from these agencies, but several, have served the Conservancy’s cause over the years.
There is also the fee payer community. The private developers and the public ones. Each has paid a fee to be included in the “Incidental Take Permit” that is supported by the NBHCP. Every dollar paid has gone to work in accomplishing the mission of the Conservancy. Every dollar on every square foot of land developed in Natomas during this time. Everyone who lives on Natomas’ developed land, and every business that conducts commerce on this land, and every school that has built and operates facilities on this land, has contributed to this success. Their contributions have gone to acquiring land, restoring it or enhancing it, and managing it for the benefit of the NBHCP’s covered species.
The beneficiaries? The species covered by the the NBHCP. This hit me a few days ago when I was conducting a routine inspection of the preserves. I realized I had seen, on a slow month for seeing covered species, many of the species on a casual inspection. Tri-colored blackbird, giant garter snake, Swainson’s hawk, western pond turtle, loggerhead shrike, white-faced ibis, burrowing owl. Honestly, when this was started, a decade ago, I doubted it could happen this fast.
But these creatures now have a refuge. A sanctuary. A place to retreat to and be safe from human intrusion.
What the future holds is not known. But if the next 10 years are as filled with progress as the first 10, then this will be fabulous. The species covered by the NBHCP will benefit even more. But there are many other species of wildlife that also benefit from the Conservancy’s work. And we can all know that in creating this huge “urban field,” we have also taken the time, effort, money and land to create and save a small place for nature to express itself. We can all be proud.