2017 Habitat 2020 Accomplishments

Habitat 2020 is ECOS’ Habitat & Conservation committee. Habitat 2020 is a coalition that works to protect the lands, waters, wildlife and native plants in the Sacramento region. The great Central Valley of California has been identified by the World Wildlife Fund as one of North America’s most endangered eco-regions. Preserving its remaining open space and agricultural land is essential for sustaining native plants and wildlife, and ensuring a high quality of life for ourselves and future generations.

In 2017 Habitat 2020 had a continued engagement in a broad range of Sacramento regional environmental protection efforts that no singular organization could address alone.

These crucial activities include:

  • Continued promotion of the Heartland Project Vision for a regionally coordinated and connected system of parks, preserves and working lands:
    • Successfully negotiated a new contract in with the UCD Information Center for the Environment and the Capitol Southeast Connector JPA to continue development of the Sacramento regional natural resources data inventory and modeling project, in accordance with the ECOS-Connector JPA Settlement Agreement.
    • Aided in visioning and oversight of the SMUD carbon sequestration inventory for Sacramento County, the first application of the UCD-Heartland Natural Resource inventory.
    • Aided in the acquisition of a $600k Federal Environmental Protection Agency grant for UCD to continue a second phase of development for the natural resource inventory to cross analyze public health factors with environmental sustainability factors to better illustrate relationships between human and ecological health in the Sacramento Region.
  • Continued a decade-long resistance to irresponsible expansion of the City of Elk Grove in an effort to protect critical habitat for myriad species in the Cosumnes River corridor, including Sandhill Crane and Swainson’s hawk. Elk Grove is currently updating its General Plan and has three current Sphere of Influence Expansion Applications. A primary concern is the Kammerrer-99 SOI proposal, outside of the long-standing County Urban Services Boundary and the Regional Sustainable Communities Strategy. Habitat 2020 engagement and commentary has so far led to the decision to recirculate the Draft Environmental impact report to better address important concerns raised with the EIR’s initial analysis. The Final EIR has recently been released and great concerns for the project remain. The Local Agency Formation Commission hearing to consider approval of the project is scheduled for February.
  • Continued critical representation of the environmental community in development of the final South Sacramento Habitat Conservation Plan and Environmental Impact Report and Statement released this year, after decades of evolution. Habitat 2020 engagement was essential to this process, being the only group to review the entire public draft of the Plan and the environmental documents, over 3300 pages. The extensive commentary Habitat 2020 has provided is aimed at correcting some long standing issues that remain before certification.
  • Partnered with Friend’s of the Swainson’s Hawk to negotiate an agreement with the City of Sacramento to preserve the integrity of the Natomas Basin Habitat Conservation Plan in mitigation of their approval of the Greenbriar project.
  • Provided expert testimony to the ongoing CA WaterFix hearings concerning important terrestrial impacts posed by the proposed Delta tunnels project with H2020 partners, including Friends of Stone Lakes National Wildlife Refuge and SOSCranes.
  • Tracked initial local implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, offering in depth commentary on the pros and cons of the Sacramento Central Groundwater Authority’s proposed Groundwater Management Plan Alternative, with the aim to outline a constructive path forward to address current deficiencies with increased public participation and oversight. We continued our active presence at the Environmental Caucus of the Water Forum, and this last year Ted Rauh of our Water Group became an alternate South Central Groundwater Committee Board member representing environmental interests.
  • H2020 Partner, SOS Cranes, continued participation in the Statewide Sandhill Crane Conservation Strategy Technical Advisory Committee in development of a plan due for release in 2018.
  • Continued participation in the Sacramento Area Council of Governments “Sounding Board” advisory committee for development of the 2020 Metropolitan transportation Plan Sustainable Communities Strategy (MTP/SCS), emphasizing the need for smart, more compact regional growth that simultaneously provides greater, more equitable access to non-auto modes of travel, and preserves natural and agricultural resources. Habitat 2020 has also offered important representation in the SB 375 target revision process currently underway at the CA Air Resources Board, with an aim to determine the most ambitious GHG reduction targets feasible for the Sacramento Region’s MTP/SCS.
  • Supported Audubon Society efforts to preserve essential Purple Martin nesting habitat in the City of Sacramento’s I St bridge replacement project.
  • Supported International Dark Sky Association recommendations to the Cities of Sacramento and West Sacramento for reducing light impacts to aquatic and terrestrial habitat on the Sacramento Riverfront.
  • Supported Folsom community residents in a campaign to develop an alternative plan for storm/waste water infrastructure improvements to minimize impacts to Hinkle Creek and its surrounding forest.
  • Coordinated broad regional stakeholder input into a robust set of recommendations for the City of Sacramento for the consideration of investment in a regional educational facility focused on the region’s unique natural resources.

They thought it was a permanent nature preserve. Now developer Tsakopoulos wants to build there.

The Sacramento Bee

December 11, 2017

By Hudson Sangree

Residents of Sacramento County’s Vineyard area are angry about the prospect of losing open space they thought the county had protected permanently more than 25 years ago.
It turns out the land, known as Silver Springs Lot P, has been owned all along by developer Angelo K. Tsakopoulos, whose company now wants to build houses on it.

“The applicants argued that they had never intended for Lot P to be preserved in perpetuity,” a county report said.

The developer has proposed constructing 48 houses on half-acre lots near Calvine and Excelsior Roads in the semi-rural area southeast of the city of Sacramento.
The plan is scheduled to be heard Monday by Sacramento County’s planning commissioners.

Residents of the Vineyard area thought the 91.5 acres in question had been preserved long ago to protect seasonal wetlands. Buyers paid premiums for houses adjacent to the land, believing it would always be open.

Click here to read the full article

Kammerer Road-Highway 99 Sphere Of Influence Amendment DREIR

On September 11, 2017, ECOS submitted our comments on the Draft Recirculated Environmental Impact Report (DREIR) for the Proposed Kammerer/Highway 99 Sphere Of Influence Amendment (SOIA) Application for the City of Elk Grove.

Click here or on the image above to read the comment letter.

Summary

We appreciate the added attention to detail offered in the recirculated draft EIR, but rather than alleviate our concerns expressed in our original letter, the DREIR only further confirms those concerns. ECOS remains strongly opposed to the proposed Kammerer-99 Elk Grove SOI expansion and stands by our initial observation summarizing the project: Elk Grove’s anticipated growth can be accommodated within the existing City limits, and we find no justification for expansion beyond the Sacramento County Urban Services Boundary (USB) established in 1993 to be the ultimate growth boundary within the County. The proposal is inconsistent with the Sacramento Area Council of Governments’ (SACOG) Metropolitan Transportation Plan/Sustainable Communities Strategy (MTP/SCS) for meeting State mandated greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions, Federal mandates for Air Quality Attainment under the State Improvement Plan (SIP), as well as myriad regional goals for social equity, public health and natural resource conservation. There is an extreme lack of certainty that municipal water can be provided to this area without severe regional impacts, and the impacts to invaluable agricultural and biological resources by the proposal are potentially impossible to mitigate. The RDEIR confirms significant and unavoidable impacts in all these above-mentioned areas, with the exception of less than significant biological impact after mitigation which is a finding we disagree with. The question is, what justification is there for these impacts? We, again, find that there is not, and we strongly recommend that LAFCo decline the proposed Kammerer/99 SOIA.

Click here to read our comment letter to the Draft Environmental Impact Report, submitted March 31, 2017, which is referenced in our letter.

Click here for the Friends of Swainson’s Hawk’s comment letter on the Draft Recirculated Environmental Impact Report, submitted September 11, 2017, which is also referenced in our letter.

City Light Impacts on Declining Salmon Populations

March 21, 2017

ECOS submitted the following letter with concerns about outdoor lighting on the Sacramento riverfront and its effects on local salmon populations, such as the endangered Sacramento River winter-run Chinook salmon, which are particularly important among California’s salmon runs because they exhibit a life-history strategy found nowhere else on the West Coast.

Read the full letter by clicking here.