Upper Westside of North Natomas


Area of “The Boot,” aka the Upper Westside Specific Plan site

February 24, 2019 [UPDATE]

On Tuesday, February 26, 2019 at 2:15 pm, the County of Sacramento Board of Supervisors will consider starting a master plan process to urbanize 2,000 acres of prime agricultural land in Natomas (covering most of the existing farmland between the City limit and Sacramento River, south of Fisherman’s Lake). If possible, please attend the hearing. Please send a note to the Board (emails below) opposing this expansion on Farmland. Suggested language follows.

Click here to view the letter from ECOS, Habitat 2020, Sierra Club and Friends of Swainson’s Hawk, delivered February 22, 2019.

Email string for Supervisors (copy and paste)
SupervisorSerna[at]saccounty[dot]net, nottolid[at]saccounty[dot]net, susanpeters[at]saccounty[dot]net, kennedyp[at]saccounty[dot]net, supervisorfrost[at]saccounty[dot]net, BoardClerk[at]saccounty[dot]net, LundgrenJ[at]saccounty[dot]net.

Suggested text:

I oppose development of farmland in Sacramento County and ask you to deny the request to create an Upper Westside Master Plan for 2000 acres in the Natomas “Boot.” My reasons are:

  1. This proposal violates County General Plan policies, including the Urban Services Boundary and agricultural preservation policies, to preserve agricultural and open space lands in the County.
  2. There are thousands of acres of vacant land inside the Urban Services Boundary in the County where future urban development is already authorized. There is no economic need to provide for more zoning for urban uses.
  3. There are thousands of vacant acres approved for development in the City and Sutter County portions of the Natomas Basin and these projects have a Habitat Conservation Plan in place to mitigate for their impacts on wildlife and are included in regional air quality and transportation plans. There is no economic rationale for advancing development in the portion of the basin that lacks infrastructure and mitigation programs.
  4. I support the Natomas Basin Habitat Conservation Plan. Urbanization of the Boot area would undermine the effectiveness of the Natomas Basin Habitat Conservation Plan and directly conflict with the preserves located in and adjacent to the plan area.

Ask the Supervisors to endorse the Natomas Habitat Conservation Plan as the best plan for the Boot.

Thank you,

Friends of the Swainson’s Hawk
swainsonshawk[at]sbcglobal[dot]net
Judith Lamare
James Pachl
916 769 2857 c


February 11, 2019

Please read the latest call to action below, from Habitat 2020 Member Organization, Friends of the Swainson’s Hawk:

Landowners in the Boot area of North Natomas have asked the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors to start the legal process needed for approval of a development plan for 2000 acres of urban development in the County covering most of the existing farmland between the City limit and Sacramento River, south of Fisherman’s Lake.

The proposal directly contradicts and would undermine the Natomas Basin Habitat Conservation Plan (NBHCP) which covers the entire Natomas Basin. This plan — a binding contract between the city of Sacramento and County of Sutter and the state and federal wildlife agencies — relies in part on the Boot continuing to remain in agriculture and open space. It protects the Swainson’s Hawk population which nests along the Sacramento River and forages for rodents in the Basin, including the Boot area. The 2001 Natomas Basin Habitat Plan designates the mile-wide strip of land, in County jurisdiction, next to the Sacramento River levee as the Swainson’s Hawk Zone, which must remain free of urban development for the HCP to succeed.

Most of the proposed Boot development would be within the Swainson’s Hawk Zone. The City’s Incidental Take Permit (issued by USFWS and CDFW) for new development in North Natomas depends on the continued integrity of the NBHCP, including continuation of agriculture and open space in the Swainson’s Hawk Zone, and would be jeopardized by new development in the Boot.

Bob Thomas, who is the project representative, was formerly the City Manager who signed the NBHCP Incidental Take Permit as City Manager, and is very aware of the importance of the Swainson’s Hawk Zone, including the Boot area, to conservation of threatened species and the City’s buildout of North Natomas.

Please help us convince the County Board of Supervisors to deny this request. Letters to the Board members can include these important points:

  1. Urbanization planning in the Natomas Basin is contrary to important County General Plan policies, including the Urban Services Boundary, and policies to preserve agricultural and open space lands in the County.
  2. The Urban Services Boundary (which excludes urbanization in this area) is the basis for our regional air quality and transportation plans which protect our health and prevent the congestion that urban sprawl engenders. This is our region’s core strategy for Climate Action and mitigation for Climate Change.
  3. There are thousands of acres of vacant land inside the Urban Services Boundary in the County where future urban development is already authorized, and thousands of acres of vacant land already zoned for development. There is no economic need to provide for more zoning for urban uses.
  4. There are thousands of vacant acres approved for development in the City and Sutter County portions of the Natomas Basin. These projects have planned infrastructure and mitigation programs. There is no economic rationale for considering development in the portion of the basin that lacks infrastructure and mitigation programs.
  5. Express your support for the Natomas Basin Habitat Conservation Plan. Urbanization of the Boot area would undermine the effectiveness of the Natomas Basin Habitat Conservation Plan. Ask the Supervisors to endorse the Natomas Habitat Conservation Plan as the best plan for the Boot.
  6. For residents of Natomas, public safety, emergency evaluation, freeway and airport access and other issues may come to mind in contemplating urbanization west of El Centro and North of I-80.

The hearing is set for 9:30 am, Tuesday, Feb 26, 2019.

The emails for the Board are: SupervisorSerna[at]saccounty[dot]net, nottolid[at]saccounty[dot]net, susanpeters[at]saccounty[dot]net, kennedyp[at]saccounty[dot]net, supervisorfrost[at]saccounty[dot]net, BoardClerk[at]saccounty[dot]net, LundgrenJ[at]saccounty[dot]net.

Please also cc or forward what you send to swainsonshawk[at]sbcglobal[dot]net.

Send an email to the Board Clerk requesting hearing notice and notice of availability of documents: BoardClerk[at]saccounty[dot]net.

For more information on the proposal, check the County website at https://planningdocuments.saccounty.net/. Search for “Upper Westside Specific Plan” Control #: PLNP2018-00284


Swainson’s Hawk in flight

Please share this call to action with friends and family who can help.

Thank you.

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

Comments re the Regional Water Authority (RWA) Planning Forum

On January 11, 2019, the Environmental Council of Sacramento and Habitat 2020, sent comments regarding the Regional Water Authority (RWA) Planning Forum.

Below is the content of our letter in full.


John Woodling
Executive Director
Regional Water Authority
5620 Birdcage Street, Ste 180
Citrus Heights, CA 95610

Subject: Regional Water Authority (RWA) Planning Forum

Dear Mr. Woodling,

The Environmental Council of Sacramento (ECOS), a 501c3 organization, and Habitat 2020, the Conservation Committee of ECOS, are partner coalitions dedicated to protecting the natural resources of the greater Sacramento region while building healthier, more equitable, economically thriving communities. ECOS-Habitat 2020 member organizations include: 350 Sacramento, AARP, Breathe California-Sacramento Emigrant Trails, Friends of Stone Lakes National Wildlife Refuge, International Dark-Sky Association, Los Rios College Federation of Teachers, Mutual Housing California, Physicians for Social Responsibility Sacramento Chapter, Sacramento Citizens’ Climate Lobby, Sacramento Electric Vehicle Association, Sacramento Green Democrats, Sacramento Housing Alliance, Sacramento Natural Foods Coop, Sacramento Audubon Society, Sacramento Valley Chapter of the California Native Plant Society, Sacramento Vegetarian Society, Save Our Sandhill Cranes, Save the American River Association, Sierra Club Sacramento Group, Friends of the Swainson’s Hawk, and the Sacramento Area Creeks Council.

ECOS/Habitat 2020 are heartened by the extensive work the Regional Water Authority (RWA) and its member organizations are doing to improve the Sacramento Region’s (Region) water reliability and security. The 2018 update of the American River Basin Integrated Regional Water Management Plan (“Plan”) provides a solid framework to guide the Region’s water purveyors and GSAs to improve interconnectivity; engage in water transfers, recharge and banking; plan for and manage the three American River Subbasins sustainably; and, ensure that the Region’s three river systems have sustaining flows, temperatures, and water quality; and, provide the needed habitat for the flora and fauna they support.

We understand that RWA has an established review group called the Planning Forum. ECOS/Habitat 2020 would be pleased to formally join this group. If this meets with RWA needs please include Ted Rauh as our contact point. Ted can be reached at tnrauh[at]att[dot]net or at (916) 261-8011.

We also understand that RWA is preparing to engage in a public awareness campaign to convey to elected officials, agency decision makers, opinion leaders, and the public, the importance of the projects and activities identified in the Plan and how the Plan lays out a prudent path for the region’s water future. We would be pleased to participate with RWA in the development and implementation of this campaign. ECOS/Habitat 2020 represent, or are affiliated with, most of the environmental and community based groups in the Region, and have strong ties with conservation and other public interest groups as well. We believe we can be of significant assistance. However, we believe several key issues need to be addressed to ensure the full success of outreach effort. If these issues are not addressed important aspects of the Plan may be called into question because of its failure to address the Region’s three groundwater subbasins equally and equitably.

Specifically, we strongly believe that each Subbasin needs to have comprehensive Subbasin descriptive modeling systems that assure accurate accounting and impact assessment of both recharge and pumping operations, and accurately describe the flows and elevations of groundwater through the Subbasin so that a Subbasin management approach can be carried out that is capable of responding to delayed changes within the Subbasin due to pumping and recharge operations, and responds to GDE and other triggers. RWA is in the process of establishing this type of modeling system for the North American Subbasin and is actively working with the other two Subbasins to adopt the same system or establish compatible systems. We fully support these efforts.

The Plan includes the potential for substantial water banking resulting from excess storm water runoff. We have received information from UC Water experts that this resource constitutes a real potential for our region. SAFCA is moving forward with a series of actions outlined in the Plan that can make significant quantities of excess storm water available over sufficient time frames to allow for selective regional groundwater recharge and banking under the right conditions. A critical step in satisfying some of these conditions is the completion of a thorough analysis of where within the Region the prime recharge and extraction zones are located. This analysis should include each area’s compatibility with existing land use and water management/conveyance constraints. This information will allow for appropriate modeling to be developed so that the actual storage, flow, and recovery potential of these groundwater resources can be fully understood. We understand that UC Davis is preparing a project plan to carry out this analysis that may be ready for funding in the near future. We think that a project to determine this information should be included within the Plan.

The above observations are not intended to deter RWA’s important planning and project management activities, but rather to point out several gaps that if not addressed, may diminish the extensive work that has already been done. Regardless of RWA’s ability to react to our suggestions, ECOS/Habitat 2020 stand ready to work collaboratively with RWA to communicate the importance of regional water security and the plans and projects that best lead the region toward this goal. We stand ready to meet with you and your staff to further explore these points and how we may assist in your Agency’s efforts to effect comprehensive water security that can benefit the environment. Robert Burness can be reached at rmburness[at]comcast[dot]net or 916-956-0365.

Sincerely,

Robert C. Burness
Co-chair of Habitat 2020

Ralph Propper
Board President of ECOS


Read the letter in PDF by clicking here.

It’s Not Too Late to Sponsor the Environmentalist of the Year Awards!

Dear Friend of the Environment:

The Environmental Council of Sacramento (ECOS) has been hosting the Environmentalist of the Year awards since 1973. The awards ceremony is a time to celebrate and recognize the past year’s regional champions and community sustainability successes. It is also a time to reflect on the work we still have in front of us in the year ahead.

Your sponsorship is an investment in the ongoing success of ECOS and provides you with significant recognition of your contribution and environmental stewardship. As you may know, ECOS is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization comprised of a broad range of organizations and individuals who unite to create a single voice for local environmental concerns. Our mission is to achieve regional and community sustainability and a healthy environment for existing and future residents. ECOS works proactively with our members, member organizations, local government, and community groups to energize and create positive change in the Sacramento region as we work to develop thriving communities.

2018 Awardees

Environmentalist of the Year – Jack Sales

Jack joined International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) in 1993 and started the first California Chapter in 1996. Jack and his wife Beverly have traveled the length of California with an information display which has introduced thousands of individuals to the issue of Light Pollution and impacts of Artificial Light at Night (ALAN). He is being awarded for his focus of the last few years on understanding the impacts of ALAN on predation of juvenile and adult salmon, the numerous talks he has given on the subject and his influence on reducing light pollution from a bridge in Roseville, California.

Environmentalist of the Year – Jennifer Donlon Wyant

Jennifer Donlon Wyant is the Transportation Planning Section Manager for the City of Sacramento. Jennifer manages the transportation planning team as well as a number of programs including the Vision Zero and the Active Transportation programs. She lives in Sacramento and walks and bikes to neighborhood businesses and parks and loves the community and relationship building that can happen by walking and bicycling. Jennifer is being awarded for her work to bring Protected Bike Lanes to Sacramento and on the implementation of the City of Sacramento’s Bicycle Master Plan.

Lifetime Achievement Award – Matthew Baker

Matt Baker began working for Habitat 2020 and the Environmental Council of Sacramento (ECOS) in 2008 and currently serves as our Land Use and Conservation Policy Director. He is being awarded for his work with the Sacramento Area Council of Governments (SACOG), specifically his valuable analysis of the Metropolitan Transportation Plan/Sustainable Communities Strategy (MTP/SCS). Another achievement we want to honor is his work on the California Heartland Project, including cutting-edge work with UC Davis in the mapping and analysis of the region’s natural resources, habitat and ecosystem services.

Community Organizer Award – Dyane Osorio

Dyane is the Director of the Mother Lode Chapter of the Sierra Club. She has held the position since 2016. She co-founded the higher-education non-profit, ‘Dream. Develop. Do.’ in 2009. She has more than 9 years of non-profit sector experience and is passionate about social and environmental justice; she understands that we cannot have one without the other. She is being awarded for her work with DREAMers, promoting activism for immigrants’ rights, skillfully supporting the Sierra Club Mother Lode Chapter groups, fighting for environmental justice, forwarding climate action, and working to increase transportation access for all residents.

Public Servant Award – Assemblymember Kevin McCarty

Assemblymember Kevin McCarty is a member of the California Legislative Black Caucus. Prior to being elected to the Assembly in 2014, he was a Sacramento City Councilmember. Assemblymember McCarty was elected to the California State Assembly in 2014 to represent the 7th Assembly District, which includes Sacramento, West Sacramento and parts of unincorporated Sacramento County. He is being recognized for his long-standing dedication to our local environment throughout his time as an elected official; specifically, for his recent work in establishing the Lower American River Conservancy.

Sponsorship Levels

John Muir Sponsorship – $2,500
Benefits include all those of the Rachel Carson Sponsorship, plus:
– A listing in the event program at the highest level, including your logo (if you have a logo)
– An additional 4 tickets to the event (10 total)
– At least two social media shout-outs in recognition of your contribution

Rachel Carson Sponsorship – $1,000
Benefits include all those of the George Washington Carver Sponsorship, plus:
– A higher-level listing in the event program
– An additional 2 tickets to the event (6 total)

George Washington Carver Sponsorship – $500
Benefits include all those of the Ansel Adams Sponsorship, plus:
– A higher-level listing in the event program
– An additional 2 tickets to the event (4 total)

Ansel Adams Sponsorship – $250
Benefits include:
– Your name, logo and a link to your website (if applicable) on the ECOS website
– A special listing in the event program
– 2 tickets to the event
– Verbal recognition during the awards ceremony
– At least one social media shout-out in recognition of your contribution

How to Sponsor the Environmentalist of the Year Awards

To donate online, just click on the ‘Donate’ button in the left hand margin of this page, on our homepage, or in the menu bar at the top. Please indicate the intent of the check (Environmentalist of the Year award).

If you would prefer to mail a check, please make it out to, and send it to, Environmental Council of Sacramento, P.O. Box 1526, Sacramento, California 95812-1526. Please indicate the intent of the check (for example, “Environmentalist of the Year Awards”).

Since we are a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, your donation is tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law. Thank you very much for your consideration and please remember that your generous support makes a significant difference in our day to day operations. Please feel free to contact us with any questions at office[at]ecosacramento[dot]net.

Click here for this letter in PDF format.

Sincerely,

Ralph Propper, President of the Board | ECOS

The Environmental Council of Sacramento

P.O. Box 1526, Sacramento, CA, 95812

Resolution in Support of Expanding and Enhancing Sutter’s Landing Park

WHEREAS, the Lower American River provides a beautiful place for Sacramento-area families to connect with nature, enjoy quality outdoor time together, and inspire children to learn about science; and

WHEREAS, the Lower American River and the American River Parkway generate about 8,000,000 visitor days per year making this resource one of the most popular recreational areas in the Sacramento region; and

WHEREAS, the Lower American River, the American River Parkway, and Sutter’s Landing Park provide vital habitat for a wide variety of wildlife including the Swainson’s Hawk (California threatened species), the White-tailed kite (species of special concern), river otters, and many other wildlife species; and

WHEREAS, there are very limited opportunities for Sacramento area residents to access the southern banks of the Lower American River or enjoy significant natural areas along the river’s southern banks within the City of Sacramento; and

WHEREAS, Sacramento area residents have rated parks, trails and recreation areas as the amenities most in need of investment and have rated large habitats for walking and hiking where interpretive and educational programs can take place as their top priority for the type of park and recreational facilities to be provided in the future; and

WHEREAS, the Governor and the California Legislature established the Lower American River Conservancy Program to assist local governments in protecting, restoring, and expanding wildlife areas and public access along the Lower American River and voters recently approved millions of dollars of state park bond funding for this purpose; and

WHEREAS, the City of Sacramento has the opportunity to establish one of California’s most significant urban riverside parks by expanding Sutter’s Landing Park to the west of the existing park when these lands become available from willing landowners and protecting and restoring existing open space areas; and

WHEREAS, expanding and improving Sutter’s Landing Park will provide Sacramento diverse population with a tremendous natural area that can readily connect children and other community members with nature in the heart of our city; and

WHEREAS, expanding Sutter’s Landing Park to the west is necessary to help fill the existing gap in the Two Rivers Trail gap between 16th Street and the current Sutter’s Landing Park; and

WHEREAS, each generation has a responsibility to leave our children and future generations with an improved environment and affordable recreational opportunities.

WHEREAS, the opportunity to place lands near Sutter’s Landing into public ownership has arisen, and should be seized;

WHEREAS, ECOS has long supported conservation of the American River Parkway and supports conserving and restoring the lands adjacent to Sutter’s Landing that are now in private ownership;

WHEREAS, it is important that the design process of the eventual public park be open and collaborative across Sacramento’s many communities;

WHEREAS, the park should have modern facilities, including adequate restrooms, and be designed to be accessible and useful for all;

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED THAT the Environmental Council of Sacramento respectfully urges the Mayor of Sacramento, the City Council of Sacramento, the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors, and the Wildlife Conservation Board to:

1. Make expansion, protection, restoration, and improvement of Sutter’s Landing Park a priority.

2. Support educational programs at Sutter’s Landing Park and along the American River Parkway to provide children with information about the river’s contribution to the natural and cultural history of our region.

3. Support and allocate funding to make Sutter’s Landing Park one of California’s greatest urban natural oasis providing our communities and other visitors with ready connection to nature and one of America’s most beautiful rivers.

AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT ECOS will transmit this resolution to the Mayor of Sacramento, Members of the Sacramento City Council, Members of the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors, and Members and Staff of the Wildlife Conservation Board.

Click here to view the resolution in PDF.

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

Suit filed to block step toward annexation of land by Elk Grove

June 5, 2018

By Ben van der Meer

The Sacramento Business Journal

A coalition of environmental groups has filed suit to block a step that the city of Elk Grove must take before it can annex more than 1,100 acres to the south.

The plaintiffs, led by the Environmental Council of Sacramento, filed suit in Sacramento County Superior Court alleging that an environmental impact report for the move doesn’t adequately address impacts on water, loss of farmland and at-risk species such as the sandhill crane and Swainson’s hawk.

The suit also claims that the Sacramento Local Agency Formation Commission went against its stated policies to discourage sprawl when it approved a sphere-of-influence amendment for Elk Grove earlier this year.

. . .

Click here to read the full article.