Inadequate Swainson’s Hawk Protections in Elk Grove

Swainson’s Hawks in California

The Swainson’s hawk (Buteo Swainsoni) was listed as a threatened species in 1983 by the California Fish and Game Commission. This listing was based on loss of habitat and decreased numbers across the state.

Click here to read more about the Swainson’s Hawk.


The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has released an analysis of Kamilos’ Swainson’s Hawk Foraging Habitat Mitigation Proposal at Van Vleck Ranch. They have advised the City of Elk Grove not to use this mitigation program.

Click here to read CDFW’s analysis.

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At The Behest of Kamilos Development, Elk Grove City Council Makes Change to SEPA-Swainson’s Hawk Mitigation Policy

June 29, 2018

Elk Grove News.net

In a lengthy presentation and public comment that was followed by a relatively short deliberation period, the Elk Grove City Council approved a change to the environmental impact report for the city’s Southeast Policy Area (SEPA) at their Wednesday, June 27 meeting.

By a unanimous 4 – 0 vote (council member Stephanie Nguyen was absent) the city council changed the manner in which mitigation can be handled for the Swainson’s Hawk. Specifically, at the Behest of Kamilos Development, the city amended the certified EIR so that mitigation land set-aside for the threatened species can be placed on the 4,768-acre Van Vleck Ranch near Rancho Murieta, California, which is further away from the SEPA than initially approved in the SEPA EIR.

Under previous requirements for SEPA projects, the mitigation land was geographically closer. In both cases, the standard replacement continues to be that each acre of lost habitat must be mitigated with one acre of conservancy.

During the staff report from Antonio Ablog, it was noted a review of the change by California Department of Fish and Wildlife highlighted that the new habitat is 18 miles from the SEPA project, which exceeds the recommended distance of 10 miles. Additionally, the CDFW said the new mitigation area on the Van Vleck ranch was lower quality foraging for the hawks.

. . .

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife lists the Swainson’s Hawk as a threatened species. According to the CDFW “the most recognized threat to Swainson’s hawks in the loss of their native foraging and breeding grounds.”

Click here to read the full article.


Click here to read more background about this issue.

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Elk Grove and Swainson’s Hawk Mitigation

Dear Friends:

Elk Grove is at it again. At the request of developer Gerry Kamilos and rancher Stan Van Vleck, the City is considering changing its mitigation requirement for Swainson’s Hawks impacts of development in the Southeast Policy Area. This change will put mitigation more than 18 miles from the site of impact. The current requirement is within 10 miles. The Elk Grove area is one of the densest nesting areas of Swainson’s Hawks in California. The Van Vleck Ranch is not. The hearing is June 27, Wednesday at 6.

The agenda and staff report (Item 9.1) are found here http://www.elkgrovecity.org/UserFiles/Servers/Server_109585/File/cityclerk/citycouncil/2018/ag-06-27-18.pdf

California Department of Fish and Wildlife prepared an analysis of the suitability of the proposed Van Vleck mitigation property for mitigation for development in Elk Grove and concluded that the property was too far from the site of impact to be appropriate mitigation. That report is included in the Staff report on line. Also included are our previous letters (with allies) explaining why this is a bad idea.

Please send an email to the Elk Grove City Council before June 27 to oppose this change.


Here is what you should include in your comment:

Item 9.1 A Public Hearing to consider a resolution adopting an Addendum to the Certified Environmental Impact Report for the Southeast Policy Area Strategic Plan involving text changes to the EIR and previously-adopted Mitigation Monitoring and Reporting Program (MMRP) [p. 1-252]

I oppose the proposed change in mitigation measure for the Southeast Policy Area development impacts on Swainson’s Hawk foraging.

1. The mitigation land proposed is too distant (18 miles plus) from the site of impact to be appropriate mitigation land for development in Elk Grove. Until now, development in Elk Grove has mitigated for impacts within 10 miles of the development.

2. An Addendum to the Final EIR for the Plan area is no way to make a major policy change in Elk Grove’s protection of the Swainson’s Hawk population that its growth is and has impacted. This is a significant change requiring an override of existing Elk Grove policy. It affects 900 acres of mitigation and sets a precedent for much more.

3. The City claims to have an exemplar Swainson’s Hawk mitigation program. Invoking a loophole in its Ordinance to provide a significant deviation from its policy would disqualify the City from claiming its distinction as a protector of the Swainson’s Hawk.

Your name and area/city of residence.


Contact info for emailing City of Elk Grove: you can use this email string –
stevely [at] elkgrovecity [dot] org, dsuen [at] elkgrovecity [dot] org, phume [at] elkgrovecity [dot] org, sdetrick [at] elkgrovecity [dot] org, snguyen [at] elkgrovecity [dot] org, jbehrmann [at] elkgrovecity [dot] org,aablog [at] elkgrovecity [dot] org, swainsonshawk [at] sbcglobal [dot] net

Friends of the Swainson’s Hawk
swainsonshawk [at] sbcglobal [dot] net
Judith Lamare

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