Nesting in Natomas

By Cathryn Rakich
July 2020
Inside Sacramento

Unaware they are trespassing on land owned by the Sacramento Kings, hundreds of snowy egrets and black-crowned night herons have taken up residence in a deserted oasis on the north side of Sleep Train Arena.

From a chain-link fence surrounding the grassland, the birds can be seen gliding among cement slabs and rebar, the foundation for a baseball stadium project led by Greg Lukenbill in the late 1980s that never came to fruition.

Click here to read the full article.

City Council member calls hospital’s opening plan ‘awfully optimistic’

February 19, 2020
By Lance Armstrong, Staff Writer
The Elk Grove Citizen

Elk Grove City Council Member Pat Hume on Feb. 11 referred to California Northstate University’s (CNU) proposal to build a $750 million to $800 million teaching hospital in the Stonelake neighborhood by November 2022 as “awfully optimistic.”

“I know that OSHPD (Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development) and some of the standards that are put on (the construction of) hospitals are pretty onerous and that the oversight is pretty strict,” he said. “So, I don’t know. I know that they like to be aggressive and assertive in what they do. If they think it’s realistic, okay. But it seems awfully optimistic.”

Hume additionally told the Citizen that he has a variety of concerns regarding California Northstate University’s proposal to build a teaching hospital in the Stonelake neighborhood.

“I’ve got all kinds of concerns,” he said. “Does it fit? Do they address some of the concerns that were raised here (at the meeting) tonight with respect to traffic and circulation and flooding and floodplain and neighborhood issues?

Click here to read more.

Collaboration and persistence bring South Sacramento Habitat Conservation Plan to life

By J. Paul Bruton
September 9, 2019
US Army Corps of Engineers Sacramento District

Multiple agencies and stakeholders from the Sacramento area gathered recently at the Sacramento County Administration building to acknowledge and celebrate the formal adoption of the South Sacramento Habitat Conservation Plan (SSCHP).
The project has been twenty years in the making, and is a first-of-its-kind project. But what exactly is it? The SSHCP is a 50-year plan under the federal Endangered Species Act that balances the conservation of important species with planned development in a 317,655-acre area within Sacramento County.
While hundreds of habitat conservation plans exist in California, this is the first in the nation to include Clean Water Act permits issued by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in addition to the Endangered Species Act permits that are issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

“This is a real groundbreaking permitting strategy with the Corps of Engineers that’s never been done anywhere in the country,” said Norris. “This is the first!”
The Habitat Conservation Plan area includes wetlands, natural grasslands with vernal pools and oak savannas, and covers 28 species, most of which are wetland dependent, including vernal pool fairy shrimp, California tiger salamander, giant garter snake and Swainson’s hawk, among others.

“One of the biggest difficulties in getting one of these plans done is that it’s an absolute marathon. It’s not a sprint,” said Sean Wirth, co-chairperson for Habitat 2020 with the Environmental Council of Sacramento. “It took 24 years to get the South Sacramento HCP from idea to completion.”
“When we’re done, we’re going to have a preserve network that works …That’ll last in perpetuity,” said Wirth.

Read the full article by clicking here.

Save Hinkle Creek

Preserving the Hinkle Creek Nature Area is vital to the success of the Hinkle Creek Center. The Hinkle Creek Center was built with a $740,000.00 public investment and a promise that the Hinkle Creek Center Nature Area would be preserved to interpret the natural, cultural and historical resources, and provide a recreational program space.  Save Hinkle Creek is actively working with Folsom City to finally fulfill the mission and purpose of the Center with upcoming nature, history and cultural programs, as well as guided hikes. Cutting down the oak woodland would greatly diminish the many stories waiting to be brought to life and enjoyed by everyone. The trees are our past, present and future!

HOW YOU CAN HELP!
We need all lovers of trees, creeks, wildlife and history to come and speak up for Alternative #1, the no-dig, increased maintenance and monitoring alternative, which ensures that the existing sewer line is maintained to the highest degree while still preserving the Hinkle Creek Nature Area.

The Folsom City Council meeting is on Tuesday, September 10 at 6:30 p.m.
Located on 50 Natoma Street, Folsom, CA 95630.

If you cannot attend the meeting, please contact the City Council members and simply state:
“I support Alternative #1, the no-dig, increased maintenance and monitoring alternative, to save the oak trees in the Hinkle Creek Nature Area. As far back as 1984 the value of this creek corridor was recognized by the Folsom City Parks and Recreation Commission along with the local neighborhood associations, and it remains just as important, if not more so today.”

For more detailed information on Hinkle Creek, please go to:
https://www.savehinklecreek.com/

Save the Pond at the Old Arena Site!

Sleep Train Arena Pond

August 2019

In August 2019, Christy Berger of Sacramento Heron and Egret Rescue presented to Habitat 2020 on an active wildlife habitat that has been discovered the Sleep Train Arena property in Natomas. At this time, the property is owned by the owners of the Sacramento Kings professional basketball team.

Here’s a summary from Sacramento Heron and Egret Rescue’s website:

We were stunned when we first viewed the huge numbers of herons and egrets nesting at the pond, and overjoyed that they were nesting in a much better site than in a city neighborhood like many other nesting colonies, and are safe from cars and people. But they may not be safe for long if the property owners fail to preserve the pond. Below are some views of the pond and the wildlife that call it home (there are more than just herons and egrets!) You will notice some concrete structures and rebar. We found out that this site is an unfinished baseball stadium built in 1990. Because of the high water table in North Natomas, the excavated area filled in and over the years with trees and other foliage, creating nice wetland habitat.

Learn more

Click here to visit the website of Sacramento Heron and Egret Rescue. There you can learn more about the birds living at the old arena site and why the plans for this property should include preservation of this habitat chosen by the birds themselves, rather than further destruction of their habitat opportunities.

December 2019

On December 9th, ECOS/Habitat 2020 partnered with Sacramento Heron and Egret Rescue to submit comments to the city regarding the Arco Arena Reuse Plan. Click here to view the letter.

Sign up here for email updates on the pond.

Photos by J. Roberson Photography

New Hospital Proposed for Elk Grove

May 30, 2019

In case you haven’t heard, there is a giant hospital planned for right next to the Stone Lakes National Wildlife Refuge in Elk Grove. The City of Elk Grove has released a Notice of Preparation (NOP) of a Draft Environmental Impact Report for the California Northstate University Medical Center Campus Project. The City is encouraging public input during the NOP’s 30-day review period ending on 6/27. See the Notice of Preparation at https://bit.ly/2JLqKDW.

Community’s Concerns

The greatest concerns expressed by the community so far include:

  • Lack of transparency on behalf of CNU and city officials/unwillingness to correct false data and “misquotes” via the media
  • A facility even more expansive than originally disclosed elevates residents’ concerns
  • Financial failure, similar to the Elk Grove “Ghost Mall”, would leave behind an eyesore/empty shell of a hospital that would ultimately need to be demolished
  • Displacement and/or destruction of local small-businesses
  • Unreliable jobs projections, based on the original 24,000 being revised to only 1,400 over the next 10 years
  • A hospital more than 6x higher than the tallest homes in the West Elk Grove/destruction of the aesthetics of the surrounding area
  • Unsustainable traffic increases along Elk Grove Blvd., at the on-ramp and off-ramp of I-5 and on one of three main arteries into the Stonelake residential community
  • Parking overflowing onto community streets
  • Major safety concerns for nearby schools
  • Negative impacts on the natural environment
  • Lack of security available to accommodate the heightened safety risks
  • Impacts to local wildlife, such as the many birds who depend on the Stone Lakes National Wildlife Refuge to survive
  • Growth Inducement

“Neighbors Ensuring Stonelake Transparency” (NEST)

Information about NEST and their concerns can be found at https://egnest.com/ and/or https://stonelakeneighbors.com.

[You may know of the]…recent demolition of what became known as “The Ghost Mall” within the City of Elk Grove It was a failed project of former Mayor Gary Davis. Davis is now a paid consultant to California Northstate University. Coincidentally, Davis had moved into the Stonelake neighborhood just a few months prior to the CNU hospital announcement.

https://egnest.com/

Habitat 2020/ECOS’ Concerns

The ECOS Habitat committee is also tracking the hospital proposal.

The Friends of Stone Lakes National Wildlife Refuge is a member of Habitat 2020 and submitted a letter outlining their concerns on May 13, 2019, prior to the release of the Notice of Preparation. You can read that letter by clicking here.

ECOS and Friends of Stone Lakes National Wildlife Refuge expect to send a joint letter on the NOP soon.

Environmental Documents

The Notice of Preparation and more documents on the hospital can be viewed at egnest.com/documents.

The Scoping Meeting is set for June 24, 2019 5:30 pm at elk Grove City Council Chambers.

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