Photo by Brad Branan: Osprey nest in the Natomas Basin
May 1, 2023 — By Brad Branan, ECOS Board member, representative of Sierra Club Sacramento
ECOS members are leading efforts to protect the Natomas Basin from several large-scale developments proposed for the environmentally sensitive area.
Developers are proposing three major projects in the basin, including the Airport South Industrial Project (ASIP) on 450 acres of farmland outside the city of Sacramento and the County’s Urban Services Boundary line. Together the projects total 8,191 acres, larger than the entire North Natomas area.
The basin is subject to environmental protection through the Natomas Basin Habitat Conservation Plan (NBHCP), which was a federal and state requirement in 1997 to mitigate planned development in the City. The NBHCP was later approved by a federal court. The basin, which includes 54,000 acres in Sacramento and Sutter County, from the Garden Highway to the Cross Canal in Sutter County, provides habitat for the protected Swainson’s Hawk and Giant Garter Snake, among other animals.
The developers of the ASIP need approval from the Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCo) so the land can become part of the City of Sacramento.
Habitat 2020, an ECOS committee, opposed the first step taken by the City and LAFCo staff in that process – to make the city and the commission co-lead agencies on the environmental review of the annexation and the project. A law firm hired by Habitat 2020 and Friends of the Swainson’s Hawk sent the commission a letter saying that having co-lead agencies is a violation of state environmental law. They are waiting for a response.
ECOS member and former Sacramento Mayor Heather Fargo, along with the ECOS Climate Committee’s Natomas Team, has been meeting with officials to explain why environmentalists oppose the project. Fargo and other project opponents are meeting with LAFCo members and Sacramento council members and are asking that the proposed annexation be brought to the Council for a public hearing and decision by the city council.
Long-time regional environmental champions Mike Eaton and Charity Kenyon have moved from their Delta home and organic farm to the Bay Area. Mike was President of the Environmental Council of Sacramento (ECOS in 1985-86) and went on to serve as Director of the Cosumnes River Preserve for over a decade. As a parting gift to the region, they have donated to ECOS three original Roman Loranc photographs of the Cosumnes River Preserve with the express understanding that we would sell them and use the money to fund the active lawsuits against Elk Grove (see expanded description of lawsuits at the end). Mike and Charity also gave ECOS three Roman Loranc photographic posters with the same understanding.
Consultation with a gallery in the Delta that sells Roman Loranc’s work indicates that the photos are worth between $1500 and $2000 each, the framed poster is worth $500, and the unframed posters are worth $200 each. The gallery would charge a fairly high premium to sell them. We are hoping to make a direct sale to a buyer without having to dilute the return by using a gallery’s services.
If you are willing to pay $1000.00 or more for one of these original photographs, please contact Alexandra Reagan at office[at]ecosacramento[dot]net. We would also be interested in offers on the posters. The photos and the posters will be at the ECOS office if you want to make an appointment to see them.
These photos were taken with a large format (4 x 5) film camera and were developed by hand by the artist himself. They would be a beautiful addition to anyone’s living space, and they are likely a savvy investment in fine art.
Biography of Roman Loranc
Roman Loranc is a living, modern-day master of fine art black and white photography. He was born in the city of Bielsko-Biala, southwestern Poland, in 1956 during the communist era. In 1982, at 26 years of age, he immigrated to Madison, Wisconsin, and in 1984 he moved from the Midwest to Modesto, California. Much of his early, better-known photographic work was created in California’s Central Valley. He moved to Northern California near Mt. Shasta in 2006 where he currently resides.
Before arriving in the United States he did not have access to the high-quality photographic books that are found so readily in America. What he remembers most about the work he saw in Poland was that it had a general dullness to the prints; so when he first saw original works by the great photographers Ansel Adams, the Westons and Morley Baer, he was in awe of the richness of tone, the depth of the blacks and the glowing light that seemed to come from the prints. He immediately knew that this is what he wanted to produce technically with his own work.
Loranc’s first inspiration as a visual artist came from the paintings of Chelmonski, Stanislawski and Pankiewiz. He was drawn to the richness of their work, their sense of drama and use of light and dark. A painter interprets his subject before it is painted, filtering the scene using his skill and artistic sensibility. This was something that he wanted to achieve with his photography.”
He enjoys photographing meditative things, like tule reeds, when the light is soft and just right for such photography. Such smaller intimate subjects, which are often overlooked because of their commonplace nature, he finds to be quietly expressive. He believes that minimizing what is included in the frame not only helps focus the viewer’s attention, but more clearly conveys the message of the photograph.
“I appreciate that light is a messenger,” he says, “revealing the world at every instant.” “The magic of photography is its ability to slice a moment out of time, which you can later hold as a print in your hands. There are special moments when I know that I have connected with something bigger than myself, when I have focused the camera on the essence of my subject. At that moment I feel a fullness that I cannot describe in words. It is a visual experience, and I can only refer you to my finished print to explain the fascination and connection I feel for the place I have photographed.”
Loranc first began photographing river tules at the Nature Conservancy (Consumnes River Preserve) in Galt, part of the Great Central Valley of California. His aim was to show the subtle beauty of the disappearing wetlands. Many people overlook this beauty because it is not easily accessible, but Loranc likes the idea that this area is being preserved more for wildlife than for people. He hopes that when people see his photographs they will want to help protect and preserve these fragile lands. This is the crucial impetus behind his efforts with the camera.
Today, Roman says he faces different challenges than he did many years ago when he first decided to make fine art photography his vocation. Originally, when he began to work solely on photography, he was challenged by not having a secure source of income. Now his biggest challenge is time. It is the essence of everything in life and how we spend it determines our happiness and personal fulfillment.
The work of Roman Loranc is not digital in any respect. Everything is done by his own hand and the toned, silver-gelatin prints he crafts are the final result. A computer display cannot convey everything that he is able to capture in his prints – not the depth or richness of blacks, the sparkle of the highlights, the subtlety of the tonality. There is a presence one feels when standing in front of a hand-printed photograph, it’s as if one can bear witness to the soul of the photographer. The computer display and the hand-printed silver-gelatin print are not equivalents!
Loranc doesn’t follow the traditional theory that one must have all the shades of gray plus complete black and complete white in order to have a great photograph. Each photograph demands a unique print interpretation in order for it to have voice and be compelling. The only thing all great art, including photographs, has in common is the intense passion of the artist for his or her work. Technical skills must be secondary to the overall impression of the photograph because they are craft and great art is more than technical skill. A great photograph is one that is infused with the artist’s passion.
Roman Loranc photographs with a Linhof 4×5 field camera. A good deal of his work is done with a 210mm Nikkor lens. He only uses Kodak Tri-X film, which he stockpiles in a freezer because he feels uncertain what the availability of film may be in the not-to-distant future. He develops his negatives with the Gordon Hutchings PMK formula from Photographer’s Formulary using a Jobo processor and then prints with Ilford glossy paper which is archivally washed, selenium and sepia toned and then archivally dry mounted. All work is done by the artist.
What Are The Two Lawsuits About?
The first is an effort to overturn a Local Area Formation Commission (LAFCo) decision to allow an expanded sphere of influence (SOI) that is the first step for Elk Grove to expand south of its current borders into an area that is invaluable to many of the species that call the Cosumnes River Preserve home. The lower reach of the Cosumnes River floods every seven to ten years inundating large swaths of the Preserve and surrounding areas. Migrants like Sandhill Cranes rely on the important upland habitats south of Elk Grove during these stochastic events, and with climate change and predicted sea level rise the need may be constant. LAFCo made this decision despite the fact that it was clearly evident that there was no demonstrated need for an expanded SOI at this time, and probably not for the next 30 years. LAFCo also completely ignored substantial evidence about the lack of available water.
The second lawsuit challenges Elk Grove’s decision to ignore its Swainson’s Hawk ordinance and allow for mitigation of their Southeast Planning Area to be twenty miles away in an area known to be at the very fringe of the hawk’s usable range in the Central Valley. Essentially Elk Grove wants to allow the destruction of an area that boasts usage by ten pairs of hawks for an area that has only one pair using it. If Elk Grove successfully makes an end run around its Swainson’s hawk ordinance we can expect that they will continue to do so on a regular basis because these mitigation lands are half the price of appropriate lands. Gallery
Part 1: The Photos
Original photograph number 1 – SOLD Description: Photo of a forest at the Cosumnes River Preserve Frame size: 29” x 23” Photo size: 19” x 14 ½”
Original photograph number 2 – SOLD Description: Photo of a foggy forest at the Cosumnes River Preserve Frame size: 22” x 38” Photo size: 16” x 20”
Original photo number 3 Description: Photo of oak trees in water at the Cosumnes River Preserve Frame size: 16” x 20” Photo size: 9 ¼” x 11 ¼”
Recommended practices and tools for local collaboration on climate-smart growth
Published: October 8, 2018
By the Strategic Growth Council
The State of California has a rich history of environmental leadership. With some of the most beautiful landscapes and fertile soils in the country, we have much to protect and conserve. As the State’s population grows towards fifty million people, infrastructure demands place intensified levels of stress on California’s agricultural and natural wealth. In order to address these challenges, California has led the charge nationally to reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions, because we recognize that this battle is not only about the environment – it is also about protecting the well-being of our families and communities. To ensure the prosperous future of our State, we must shift to a more conscientious approach to land use planning in California – one that balances the needs of conservation and development. In order to balance these priorities, the State has put new laws in place for new housing and infill development, community resilience, economic growth in urban and rural areas, and set an ambitious target for carbon neutrality by 2045 that relies upon efficient and orderly growth across California.
Developed through a collaboration among the Strategic Growth Council, the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research and the California Association of Local Agency Formation Commissions (CALAFCO), this paper is intended to help support coordination among local entities to advance efficient growth and conservation of natural resources. The document highlights case studies in which LAFCos, cities, counties and special districts successfully partnered to reduce suburban sprawl and increase the conservation of natural and working lands, while also considering how to improve community resilience. It also aims to raise awareness of available tools and resources that can be used to create more environmentally and economically sustainable communities throughout California.
California, State of. “AnnouncementCreating Sustainable Communities and Landscapes: Recommended Practices and Tools for Local Collaboration on Climate-Smart Growth.” CA.gov, Strategic Growth Council, 8 Oct. 2018, www.sgc.ca.gov/news/2018/10-08.html.
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.
Sierra Club, ECOS, et al. File Legal Action to Reverse Sacramento Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCo) Approval of Expansion of Elk Grove Sphere of Influence
On June 1, 2018, the Environmental Council of Sacramento, Sierra Club, Friends of Swainson’s Hawk, Friends of Stone Lakes Wildlife Refuge and Habitat 2020 filed an action to block Sacramento LAFCo’s approval of an expanded Sphere of Influence for the City of Elk Grove. “Numerous legal errors occurred in the Commission’s consideration and approval on a 4-3 vote of this landowner*-initiated amendment to Elk Grove’s potential boundary. The decision permits previously protected farmland to now be considered for annexation into the City,” said Don Mooney, attorney for the environmental groups. “My clients represent the public interest in curbing sprawl and preserving farmland in this region.”
The Sierra Club, Environmental Council of Sacramento (ECOS) and associates have long maintained that the health and sustainability of the Sacramento region depends upon the preservation of farmland and avoidance of further urban sprawl. “LAFCo has pivoted away from long established regional goals with this approval,” said Sierra Club Mother Lode Chapter Conservation Chair Sean Wirth,” and we aim to hold them accountable. All of our region’s planning for infrastructure, the Regional Transportation Plan, the South Sacramento Habitat Conservation Plan, water supply, sanitation, and the Air Quality Plan are based on an Urban Services Boundary that LAFCo pushed aside in its February 7 decision. This blatant disregard for decades of careful planning must be challenged.”
Ralph Propper, President of ECOS, noted that “Although the Sphere of Influence Amendment is just the first step in urbanization —no dirt will be turned soon—, the Environmental Impact Report identified 22 significant and unavoidable impacts from this decision that cannot be mitigated. This is a damaging land use decision that threatens the health of our community.”
Jim Pachl, Sierra Club Mother Lode Chapter Legal Chair, pointed out that “there are over 4000 vacant acres zoned for new development within the City of Elk Grove, including 1800 acres with residential project approvals that remain unbuilt. Some projects were approved over ten years ago and remain unbuilt. Lent Ranch Mall remains a half-built shell. LAFCo lacks a legitimate reason to allow a conversion of farmland for expansion of Elk Grove’s footprint.”
LAFCo denied a request to reconsider its decision on May 2, setting the stage for the filing of litigation.
*The Sphere of Influence Amendment was sought by landowners of 1,156 acres south of Kammerer Road and west of Highway 99. The applicants are Gerry Kamilos and Martin Feletto.
Lawsuits are pricey! If you would like to provide monetary support for this, you can donate online HERE OR send a check to the Environmental Council of Sacramento, P.O. Box 1526, Sacramento, CA 95812. Please include a notation “for Elk Grove lawsuit” in the memo field of Paypal or your check to ensure that your donation goes to the lawsuit.