Hospital Construction near Stone Lakes Refuge Stopped

By Nancy Hughett, ECOS Board Member | July 2021

A coalition of environmental and community groups applying pressure on Elk Grove decision-makers was instrumental in stopping the construction of a 13-story hospital with helipad next to a sensitive habitat area. While California Northstate University (CNU) previously proposed building the hospital at the edge of the Stone Lakes National Refuge, it recently announced its relocation to the Sleep Train Arena in North Natomas (June 16, 2021).

The coalition, including ECOS’ Habitat 2020, the Audubon Society, Sierra Club and the Friends of Stone Lakes, met with Elk Grove Planning Commissioners. Coalition members expressed concerns about noise, light pollution and construction activity that would harm refuge wildlife such as Swainson’s Hawks, Sandhill Cranes and Burrowing Owls, particularly during roosting periods. In addition, helicopter flights and the massive hospital building itself would pose a danger for bird strikes; helicopter-bird strikes could also lead to loss of human life. The Stone Lakes Refuge sits within the Pacific Flyway, a major North American migration route for birds.

The environmental coalition, along with neighbors, also argued that placing a level 2 trauma center hospital in a 200-year flood plain despite existing city prohibitions would be a very bad idea. (Additionally, flooding could increase due to climate-induced sea level rise and possible atmospheric river events.) This issue proved to be a major factor in Elk Grove Planning Commissioners’ 5-0 recommendation to deny the project. The project’s proponents subsequently elected to seek other sites for their hospital.

An incidental wetlands and habitat area has developed at the Sleep Train Arena site in the excavated area for a failed baseball stadium; the pond is surrounded by mature trees and has become a resource for wildlife, including many bird species. ECOS’ Habitat 2020 Committee is drafting a letter to support its protection.

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New Voices for the Environment: ECOS Board Meeting, July 27

Tuesday July 27, 2021 @ 6:00 pm – 7:45 pm

Please join us for an ECOS Board meeting featuring presentations by three new voices for the environment:


Caring for our Watersheds in California competition winner Rory Pilling on the intersection of environmental and social justice: protection of waterways and the proposed “Right to Rest Act” for homeless to reside in the city.


CA state legislative intern Quincy Stivers on her new CEQA Handbook, written for ECOS: what is CEQA, how environmental documents are organized, how to review these documents, and how you can get involved.


Architect May Lin Chang AIA LEED AP on building standards to meet the challenge of climate change: how carbon can be reduced in building materials and operations; and standards that should be implemented now.


About the ECOS Board of Directors Meetings

Free and open to the public! Join ECOS on our mission to achieve regional and community sustainability and a healthy environment for existing and future residents. Come to one of our ECOS Board of Directors meetings! These meetings are a great place to network with fellow environmentalists and to keep up with the latest local environmental successes and challenges. Mark your calendar: ECOS Board of Directors meets on the fourth Tuesday of every other month (odd-numbered months). You do not need to be a member of ECOS to attend. Come see what we have been up to!

Held Virtually

Below is the information for participating in the meeting.

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Featured photo by Belle Co from Pexels

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