“The Boot” of North Natomas


Area of “The Boot,” aka the Upper Westside Specific Plan site

February 24, 2019 [UPDATE]

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.

Click here to view the letter from ECOS, Habitat 2020, Sierra Club and Friends of Swainson’s Hawk, delivered February 22, 2019.

Email string for Supervisors (copy and paste)
SupervisorSerna [at] saccounty [dot] net, nottolid [at] saccounty [dot] net, susanpeters [at] saccounty [dot] net, kennedyp [at] saccounty [dot] net, supervisorfrost [at] saccounty [dot] net, BoardClerk [at] saccounty [dot] net, LundgrenJ [at] saccounty [dot] net.

Suggested text:

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

Thank you,

Friends of the Swainson’s Hawk
swainsonshawk [at] sbcglobal [dot] net
Judith Lamare
James Pachl
916 769 2857 c


February 11, 2019

Please read the latest call to action below, from Habitat 2020 Member Organization, Friends of the Swainson’s Hawk:

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.

The emails for the Board are: SupervisorSerna [at] saccounty [dot] net, nottolid [at] saccounty [dot] net, susanpeters [at] saccounty [dot] net, kennedyp [at] saccounty [dot] net, supervisorfrost [at] saccounty [dot] net, BoardClerk [at] saccounty [dot] net, LundgrenJ [at] saccounty [dot] net.

Please also cc or forward what you send to swainsonshawk [at] sbcglobal [dot] net.

Send an email to the Board Clerk requesting hearing notice and notice of availability of documents: BoardClerk [at] saccounty [dot] net.

For more information on the proposal, check the County website at https://planningdocuments.saccounty.net/. Search for “Upper Westside Specific Plan” Control #: PLNP2018-00284


Swainson’s Hawk in flight

Please share this call to action with friends and family who can help.

Thank you.

Friends of the Swainson’s Hawk
swainsonshawk [at] sbcglobal [dot] net
Judith Lamare
James Pachl

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Resolution in Support of Expanding and Enhancing Sutter’s Landing Park

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.

Click here to view the resolution in PDF.

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At The Behest of Kamilos Development, Elk Grove City Council Makes Change to SEPA-Swainson’s Hawk Mitigation Policy

June 29, 2018

Elk Grove News.net

In a lengthy presentation and public comment that was followed by a relatively short deliberation period, the Elk Grove City Council approved a change to the environmental impact report for the city’s Southeast Policy Area (SEPA) at their Wednesday, June 27 meeting.

By a unanimous 4 – 0 vote (council member Stephanie Nguyen was absent) the city council changed the manner in which mitigation can be handled for the Swainson’s Hawk. Specifically, at the Behest of Kamilos Development, the city amended the certified EIR so that mitigation land set-aside for the threatened species can be placed on the 4,768-acre Van Vleck Ranch near Rancho Murieta, California, which is further away from the SEPA than initially approved in the SEPA EIR.

Under previous requirements for SEPA projects, the mitigation land was geographically closer. In both cases, the standard replacement continues to be that each acre of lost habitat must be mitigated with one acre of conservancy.

During the staff report from Antonio Ablog, it was noted a review of the change by California Department of Fish and Wildlife highlighted that the new habitat is 18 miles from the SEPA project, which exceeds the recommended distance of 10 miles. Additionally, the CDFW said the new mitigation area on the Van Vleck ranch was lower quality foraging for the hawks.

. . .

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife lists the Swainson’s Hawk as a threatened species. According to the CDFW “the most recognized threat to Swainson’s hawks in the loss of their native foraging and breeding grounds.”

Click here to read the full article.


Click here to read more background about this issue.

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