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.”
The ideas presented in the PUD completely ignore that there is a fully functioning aquatic resource (the Sleep Train Arena pond) in the Plan area that is currently providing habitat and nesting opportunities forhundreds of waterfowl. The PUD presents a completely people oriented urban landscape without any consideration for the local species that we share the region with. This paradigm ignores the appeal that such an aquatic resource would have for the new residents of the project area. It also demonstrates a lack of creativity because it is not even considered for use as part of the drainage basins that the Plan area will need to include. The grassy-sloped drainage basin depicted in the PUD, with anticipated residents recreating there, presents a vastly inferior option to a biologically dynamic pond supporting a large healthy nesting population of herons, egrets, cormorants, and other local avian species.
If this pond is eliminated, the over 1,000 herons and egrets that nest from April to August each year would very likely move to the surrounding neighborhoods to roost and nest, creating issues for residents and businesses. This would also result in hundreds of injured baby birds each year that would greatly strain local wildlife rescues, which are doing the work that our local shelters would otherwise be dealing with. The pond would provide the area with a nature viewing experience that would serve as a recreational and educational opportunity. It would allow residents access to nearby nature, which has been shown by research to have mental health benefits.
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.
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”
On Tuesday, February 26, 2019 at 2:15 pm, the County of Sacramento Board of Supervisors will consider starting a master plan process to urbanize 2,000 acres of prime agricultural land in Natomas (covering most of the existing farmland between the City limit and Sacramento River, south of Fisherman’s Lake). If possible, please attend the hearing. Please send a note to the Board (emails below) opposing this expansion on Farmland. Suggested language follows.
I oppose development of farmland in Sacramento County and ask you to deny the request to create an Upper Westside Master Plan for 2000 acres in the Natomas “Boot.” My reasons are:
This proposal violates County General Plan policies, including the Urban Services Boundary and agricultural preservation policies, to preserve agricultural and open space lands in the County.
There are thousands of acres of vacant land inside the Urban Services Boundary in the County where future urban development is already authorized. There is no economic need to provide for more zoning for urban uses.
There are thousands of vacant acres approved for development in the City and Sutter County portions of the Natomas Basin and these projects have a Habitat Conservation Plan in place to mitigate for their impacts on wildlife and are included in regional air quality and transportation plans. There is no economic rationale for advancing development in the portion of the basin that lacks infrastructure and mitigation programs.
I support the Natomas Basin Habitat Conservation Plan. Urbanization of the Boot area would undermine the effectiveness of the Natomas Basin Habitat Conservation Plan and directly conflict with the preserves located in and adjacent to the plan area.
Ask the Supervisors to endorse the Natomas Habitat Conservation Plan as the best plan for the Boot.
Landowners in the Boot area of North Natomas have asked the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors to start the legal process needed for approval of a development plan for 2000 acres of urban development in the County covering most of the existing farmland between the City limit and Sacramento River, south of Fisherman’s Lake.
The proposal directly contradicts and would undermine the Natomas Basin Habitat Conservation Plan (NBHCP) which covers the entire Natomas Basin. This plan — a binding contract between the city of Sacramento and County of Sutter and the state and federal wildlife agencies — relies in part on the Boot continuing to remain in agriculture and open space. It protects the Swainson’s Hawk population which nests along the Sacramento River and forages for rodents in the Basin, including the Boot area. The 2001 Natomas Basin Habitat Plan designates the mile-wide strip of land, in County jurisdiction, next to the Sacramento River levee as the Swainson’s Hawk Zone, which must remain free of urban development for the HCP to succeed.
Most of the proposed Boot development would be within the Swainson’s Hawk Zone. The City’s Incidental Take Permit (issued by USFWS and CDFW) for new development in North Natomas depends on the continued integrity of the NBHCP, including continuation of agriculture and open space in the Swainson’s Hawk Zone, and would be jeopardized by new development in the Boot.
Bob Thomas, who is the project representative, was formerly the City Manager who signed the NBHCP Incidental Take Permit as City Manager, and is very aware of the importance of the Swainson’s Hawk Zone, including the Boot area, to conservation of threatened species and the City’s buildout of North Natomas.
Please help us convince the County Board of Supervisors to deny this request. Letters to the Board members can include these important points:
Urbanization planning in the Natomas Basin is contrary to important County General Plan policies, including the Urban Services Boundary, and policies to preserve agricultural and open space lands in the County.
The Urban Services Boundary (which excludes urbanization in this area) is the basis for our regional air quality and transportation plans which protect our health and prevent the congestion that urban sprawl engenders. This is our region’s core strategy for Climate Action and mitigation for Climate Change.
There are thousands of acres of vacant land inside the Urban Services Boundary in the County where future urban development is already authorized, and thousands of acres of vacant land already zoned for development. There is no economic need to provide for more zoning for urban uses.
There are thousands of vacant acres approved for development in the City and Sutter County portions of the Natomas Basin. These projects have planned infrastructure and mitigation programs. There is no economic rationale for considering development in the portion of the basin that lacks infrastructure and mitigation programs.
Express your support for the Natomas Basin Habitat Conservation Plan. Urbanization of the Boot area would undermine the effectiveness of the Natomas Basin Habitat Conservation Plan. Ask the Supervisors to endorse the Natomas Habitat Conservation Plan as the best plan for the Boot.
For residents of Natomas, public safety, emergency evaluation, freeway and airport access and other issues may come to mind in contemplating urbanization west of El Centro and North of I-80.
The hearing is set for 9:30 am, Tuesday, Feb 26, 2019.
WHEREAS, the Lower American River provides a beautiful place for Sacramento-area families to connect with nature, enjoy quality outdoor time together, and inspire children to learn about science; and
WHEREAS, the Lower American River and the American River Parkway generate about 8,000,000 visitor days per year making this resource one of the most popular recreational areas in the Sacramento region; and
WHEREAS, the Lower American River, the American River Parkway, and Sutter’s Landing Park provide vital habitat for a wide variety of wildlife including the Swainson’s Hawk (California threatened species), the White-tailed kite (species of special concern), river otters, and many other wildlife species; and
WHEREAS, there are very limited opportunities for Sacramento area residents to access the southern banks of the Lower American River or enjoy significant natural areas along the river’s southern banks within the City of Sacramento; and
WHEREAS, Sacramento area residents have rated parks, trails and recreation areas as the amenities most in need of investment and have rated large habitats for walking and hiking where interpretive and educational programs can take place as their top priority for the type of park and recreational facilities to be provided in the future; and
WHEREAS, the Governor and the California Legislature established the Lower American River Conservancy Program to assist local governments in protecting, restoring, and expanding wildlife areas and public access along the Lower American River and voters recently approved millions of dollars of state park bond funding for this purpose; and
WHEREAS, the City of Sacramento has the opportunity to establish one of California’s most significant urban riverside parks by expanding Sutter’s Landing Park to the west of the existing park when these lands become available from willing landowners and protecting and restoring existing open space areas; and
WHEREAS, expanding and improving Sutter’s Landing Park will provide Sacramento diverse population with a tremendous natural area that can readily connect children and other community members with nature in the heart of our city; and
WHEREAS, expanding Sutter’s Landing Park to the west is necessary to help fill the existing gap in the Two Rivers Trail gap between 16th Street and the current Sutter’s Landing Park; and
WHEREAS, each generation has a responsibility to leave our children and future generations with an improved environment and affordable recreational opportunities.
WHEREAS, the opportunity to place lands near Sutter’s Landing into public ownership has arisen, and should be seized;
WHEREAS, ECOS has long supported conservation of the American River Parkway and supports conserving and restoring the lands adjacent to Sutter’s Landing that are now in private ownership;
WHEREAS, it is important that the design process of the eventual public park be open and collaborative across Sacramento’s many communities;
WHEREAS, the park should have modern facilities, including adequate restrooms, and be designed to be accessible and useful for all;
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED THAT the Environmental Council of Sacramento respectfully urges the Mayor of Sacramento, the City Council of Sacramento, the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors, and the Wildlife Conservation Board to:
1. Make expansion, protection, restoration, and improvement of Sutter’s Landing Park a priority.
2. Support educational programs at Sutter’s Landing Park and along the American River Parkway to provide children with information about the river’s contribution to the natural and cultural history of our region.
3. Support and allocate funding to make Sutter’s Landing Park one of California’s greatest urban natural oasis providing our communities and other visitors with ready connection to nature and one of America’s most beautiful rivers.
AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT ECOS will transmit this resolution to the Mayor of Sacramento, Members of the Sacramento City Council, Members of the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors, and Members and Staff of the Wildlife Conservation Board.