Placer County Conservation Program adds 1,400 acres of land preserves
More than 1,400 acres of land in the Sheridan area, boasting hundreds of acres of wetlands and vernal pools, have been acquired by the Placer County Conservation Program in the name of conserving lands that are critical to the survival of sensitive species and their habitat.
“Preserving western Placer County’s wetlands and vernal pool grasslands protects some of the most ecologically important and distinctive areas in California,” Placer County District 2 Supervisor Robert Weygandt said. “It also benefits the residents of Placer County by preserving open spaces and grazing, maintaining floodways, and preserving water quality.”
Providing valuable habitat for more than half of the 14 species covered by the PCCP, the following properties have been acquired in recent weeks and have put the program well ahead of early implementation goals.
Riosa Redwing Ranch
With $5.24 million in federal funds from the Endangered Species Act Section 6 Grant Program, along with $1.31 million in state funds from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife approved by the Wildlife Conservation Board, and a $445,000 matching grant from the county’s Placer Legacy Program, the Placer Conservation Authority (a joint powers agreement formed in 2020 to administer the PCCP) closed escrow Nov. 4 on approximately 560 acres of the Riosa Redwing Ranch.
The acquisition makes up more than half of the goal to acquire the entire 997-acre property. It includes approximately 170 acres of wetlands and 150 acres of a historically terraced vernal pool complex supporting robust occupancy of federally threatened fairy shrimp. The property also has habitat occupied by two state threatened birds – Swainson’s hawk and California Black Rail – and state species of concern Tricolored Blackbird.
Suitable habitat on site could also provide protection for federally listed vernal pool tadpole shrimp (endangered), Valley Elderberry Longhorn Beetle (threatened) and state species of concern Western Pond Turtle.
A nearly 300-acre dedication of land to the PCCP as part of the Land In Lieu of Fee program for Phase I of the Placer Ranch Specific Plan project closed escrow Sept. 30
Development fees totaling $7.8 million would have been required for the project, and those fees would have been used to purchase properties like the Riosa Redwing Ranch. But with the dedication of this valuable property, a credit of $2.5 million was applied and the reserve system for the PCCP gained valuable vernal pool habitats occupied by vernal pool fairy shrimp, seasonal wetland, and seasonal wetland swales. Parts of the property are also foraging habitat for Tricolored Blackbird and Swainson’s hawk.
Located between Riosa Redwing Ranch and Placer Ranch, escrow closed Oct. 5 on the purchase of a conservation easement across approximately 203 acres of the Ellis Ranch – part of the Yankee Slough Conservation Bank.
Immediately adjacent to the Riosa Redwing Ranch property to the east, and the 400 acres to the north known as the PCCP Bradley property, the Ellis Conservation Easement preserves and protects additional Yankee Slough floodplain and allows for the continuation of grazing and other agricultural operations that are consistent with protecting the easement area. The PCCP’s acquisition and recording of a conservation easement protects additional conservation values on the property and allows for protection and restoration of existing aquatic resources, and for restoration and enhancement of habitat for California Black Rail, Tricolored Blackbird, Western Burrowing Owl (a state species of special concern), and Valley Elderberry Longhorn Beetle.
Purchased by Placer County’s Placer Legacy Program in 2018 as an early acquisition ‘jump start’ property for the PCCP, negotiations are expected to be complete by the end of the year to transfer the approximately 400-acre Bradley Property deed from the county to the Placer Conservation Authority. With its 17 acres of emergent marsh occupied by California Black Rail and Tricolored Blackbird, 12 acres of vernal pool fairy shrimp-occupied pools, and land suitable for Western Burrowing Owl habitat creation, the Bradley Property will be among the many valuable additions to the PCCP reserve system during these early years of program implementation.
The PCCP covers more than 200,000 acres in western Placer County and the City of Lincoln, strengthening local land-use decision making and providing greater flexibility in meeting the county’s social and economic needs for the future.
For more information visit https://www.placer.ca.gov/pccp.