Press Release: ECOS launches campaign to save wildlife habitat and farmland in Natomas

September 11, 2023

“We think the annual Farm to Fork month, with so many people celebrating the locally grown food in the region, is a perfect time to highlight how important farms are to people and wildlife.” stated Heather Fargo, former Mayor of Sacramento and lead of the Natomas Campaign for the Environmental Council of Sacramento (ECOS).

ECOS is calling on the public to protect Natomas open space and embarking on a major campaign to educate the community about how important the Natomas farmlands and open space are to wildlife in our region and beyond. Natomas is a special place; it is a vital part of the Pacific Flyway and home to 22 protected species, in addition to providing food for our region and the world.

The Natomas Basin Habitat Conservation Plan was established in 1997 to ensure the basin’s natural resources are not lost with the growth of the Natomas community. Unfortunately, loss of these resources is likely to happen because of proposed residential and industrial development projects covering more than 8,200 acres of land intended to remain in agriculture.

The first of those projects is the Airport South Industrial Project, a 450-acre warehouse district proposed for land south of I-5 and adjacent to the West Lake neighborhood in North Natomas. If approved, it would put over 6 million square feet of warehouses on foraging habitat for the endangered Swainson’s Hawk.

“ECOS wants Sacramento to remember the value of open space and farmland as a way to support wildlife and combat climate change. We Sacramentans have a role in protecting one of the Earth’s biodiversity hotspots,” said Fargo.

A new message is on display on a digital billboard along I-5 in downtown Sacramento. It has a simple message – save Sacramento’s wildlife habitat and farmland.

Targeted to those who enjoy the local dining experience offered in the city, it simply says, ““There’s no Farm to Fork without farms” and “Natomas farmlands feed people and wildlife”.

The billboard is timed to coincide with the annual Farm to Fork Festival that includes the Tower Bridge dinner and the street festival on Capital Mall on Sept 22-23.

The billboard kicks off a major new campaign by ECOS, continuing its 50 years of efforts to protect the environment.

“The establishment of the Natomas Basin Habitat Conservation Plan was important for regional sustainability thirty years ago. Now with climate change, it is essential that we stop sprawl and protect biodiversity in this area. The NBHCP provided for development on 17, 500 acres, and the proposed projects are outside of that,” said Susan Herre AIA AICP, President of the ECOS Board of Directors.
ECOS is partnering with Sierra Club, Habitat 2020, Audubon Society, Friends of the Swainson’s Hawk and California Native Plant Society.

Map of the Natomas Basin The proposed projects are in red and are labelled.

More information is available on the ECOS website – https://www.ecosacramento.net/

Contacts: Heather Fargo, former Mayor of Sacramento, ECOS Natomas Team Lead: h-fargo[at]comcast[dot]net, (916) 600-6615; and Susan Herre, President of ECOS Board, susanherre[at]gmail[dot]com

The ECOS Mission: Our mission is to achieve regional sustainability, livable communities, environmental justice, and a healthy environment and economy for existing and future residents. ECOS strives to bring positive change to the Sacramento region by proactively working with the individual and organizational members of ECOS, neighborhood groups, and local and regional governments.

Click here for a PDF of this Press Release.

South Airport Industrial annexation proposal in North Natomas: ECOS Comments

On July 15, 2021, ECOS, along with Habitat 2020, Friends of the Swainson’s Hawk and the Sierra Club Sacramento Group sent a letter regarding the South Airport Industrial annexation proposal in North Natomas.

Below is an excerpt from our letter.

We urge you to delay consideration of the proposed LAFCo MOU until you have an approved Memorandum of Understanding with the wildlife agencies for the process you will follow to comply with the Natomas Basin Habitat Conservation Plan (NBHCP) while considering annexation of 450 acres outside your permit area. The NBHCP is a contract between the City and state and federal wildlife agencies that sets the terms of its permits to develop in Natomas. The purpose of the Plan is to preserve the populations of threatened wildlife in the Basin while allowing some City and Sutter County development. This contract states that “Because the effectiveness of the NBHCP’s Operating Program is based upon CITY limiting total development to 8,050 acres within the City’s permit area . . . , approval by either CITY or SUTTER of future urban development outside of their respective Permit Areas would constitute a significant departure from the Plan’s Operating Conservation Program.”

Click here to read the letter in full.


Photo by Brett Sayles from Pexels

Airport South Industrial Project: ECOS Comments

On June 28, 2021, the Environmental Council of Sacramento, Habitat 2020, Sierra Club Sacramento Group, Friends of the Swainson’s Hawk and Former Sacramento City Mayor Heather Fargo submitted a joint letter on the Airport South Industrial Project.

Below is an excerpt from our letter.

We urge you to remove Item 9 from the Consent Calendar and vote to deny the staff’s recommendation. The Resolution before you conflicts with and interferes with the success of the 2003 Natomas Basin Habitat Conservation Plan (“NBHCP”) the City’s efforts to reach carbon zero status, and General Plan policies. The City’s approval of the proposed annexation and development would constitute a breach of the City’s obligation under the 2003 Natomas Basin Habitat Conservation Plan to not annex or develop outside of the NBHCP permit area, and could lead to revocation of the City’s Incidental Take Permit under the Natomas Basin Habitat Conservation Plan.

Click here to read the letter in full.

Natomas Basin Conservancy presentation

March 23, 2021 — Join ECOS for a presentation on the Natomas Basin Conservancy: Sacramento’s original Habitat Conservation Plan, with John Roberts, Executive Director of the Natomas Basin Conservancy. He will be discussing the accomplishments and challenges in the face of proposed major development in the Natomas Basin.

The Natomas Basin Conservancy is the entity responsible for implementing the Natomas Basin Habitat Conservation Plan. John Roberts is their first and only director. Roberts is an economist by training whose career has focused on managing non profits in the Sacramento region. He previously managed the California Rice Growers Association and the Metro Chamber of Commerce.

“In essence, the Conservancy provides refuge and sanctuary for wildlife displaced by urban activity in the Natomas Basin. Annual biological monitoring by independent third parties demonstrates wildlife is thriving on Conservancy-owned mitigation land.”

-John Roberts, Executive Director

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California Northstate halts 400-bed Elk Grove hospital project to ‘consider all options’

By Michael Finch II | February 26, 2021 | The Sacramento Bee

Many nearby residents and environmental groups, including the Sacramento Sierra Club [and the Environmental Council of Sacramento], were opposed to the planned hospital’s location which would have neighbored the Stone Lakes National Wildlife Refuge.

A consultant from Ascent Environmental, which conducted the environmental impact review for the hospital project, suggested the school could consider at least three alternatives during the planning commission meeting last week.

To read the article in full, click here.

To learn more about this project, click here.