Field Trips

Tuesday, 8:30 a.m.—1:45 p.m.

Field Trip #1 River Ranch

Hosted by Wildlands (30 Minute Drive)

This is a unique opportunity to visit a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers 404 wetland mitigation bank, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service species conservation bank, a National Marine Fisheries Service approved salmon conservation bank, and California Department of Fish and Wildlife approved farm-friendly raptor preserves at the Wildlands River Ranch Mitigation Complex. The River Ranch is located approximately 30 minutes from downtown Sacramento and will give visitors a comprehensive look at mitigation and conservation banking in Northern California. The tour will include three separate site visits; first of the wetland mitigation bank, then on to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration salmon bank and USFWS conservation bank at the northern portion of the Ranch.  Wildlands staff will be stationed at each bank to answer questions and provide insight into banking on the ground in the Sacramento Valley. Onsite transportation via hay ride. BBQ lunch included.

Field Trip #2 Westervelt Bullock Bend and the Nigiri Project at Knaggs Ranch

Hosted by NOAA, Westervelt and Caltrout/UC Davis (40 Minute Drive)

At Knaggs Ranch, CalTrout, working closely with UC Davis, Cal Marsh and Farm Ventures LLC, and Knaggs Ranch LLC, is helping spearhead the Nigiri project, a collaborative research effort between farmers and researchers to help restore salmon populations by reintroducing them during winter to inundated floodplains that are farmed with rice during the summer.  The concepts being studied here are being applied to the development of the Central Valley Habitat Exchange (CVHE).  The CVHE is an emerging market-based conservation mechanism for restoring and protecting wildlife habitat in the Central Valley and for mitigating impacts to wildlife habitat from development and infrastructure projects. This is a good opportunity to learn about and emerging and innovative market-based mitigation approach to floodplain agriculture-friendly floodplain management. Bullock Bend Bank is approved and Westervelt Ecological Services is about to build a new floodplain mitigation bank along the Sacramento River called Bullock Bend where there has been a 98% loss of historic floodplain habitat. The bank addresses one of NMFS highest priority action items in our Central Valley salmon and steelhead restoration plan.  The bank is also about 25-30 miles away from Sacramento.

Field Trip #3 Elsie Gridley Conservation & Mitigation Bank

Hosted by WRA (45 Minute Drive)

Elsie Gridley Conservation and Mitigation Bank is the second largest bank in California at 1,837 acres. Gridley Bank was first approved in 2006 by the US Fish and Wildlife Service, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Department of Army Corps of Engineers, and the Environmental Protection Agency, with additional phases approved in 2016. Gridley bank offers a variety of species credit types including 3 vernal pool crustacean species, 7 plant species, California tiger salamander, burrowing owl, Swainson’s hawk and multiple wetland credit types. Gridley bank is ideally situated amongst a variety of large protected tracts of habitat that add to it’s conservation value. May is an ideal time to visit vernal pool wetlands and grasslands, with the possibility for abundant flowers and water still in the pools. We are likely to see a variety of grassland songbirds, wading birds, raptors, and waterfowl as well as wetland invertebrates. Time permitting we may visit the adjacent 1,500 acre Jepson Prairie Vernal Pool Preserve which is part of the UC Davis Reserve System and home to 400 species and 64 families of plants, including 15 rare and endangered plants.

Field Trip #4 SMUD Nature Preserve Mitigation Bank

Hosted by Sacramento Municipal Utility District (50 Minute Drive)

The SMUD Nature Preserve Mitigation Bank consists of 1,132 acres of annual grassland and vernal pool habitat, located in southeastern Sacramento County.  The Bank is a multi-species/multi-habitat mitigation bank that provides for the long-term projection of special-status species and habitats, including Sacramento Orcutt grass, vernal pool fairy shrimp, vernal pool tadpole shrimp, California tiger salamander, western spadefoot, tricolored blackbirds and burrowing owls.

Friday, 11:30 a.m.—4 p.m.

Field Trip #5 Muzzy Ranch Conservation Bank

Hosted by Muzzy Ranch Conservation Company (50 Minute Drive)

The Muzzy Ranch Conservation Bank encompasses approximately 1,400 acres in central Solano County, California. The ranch lies within an almost 30 square mile block of high-quality vernal pool/grassland complex habitat known as the Jepson Prairie and supports a host of rare, threatened, and endangered plants and animals. Notable species include the Delta green ground beetle (only known to occur on the Jepson Prairie), Conservancy fairy shrimp, vernal pool tadpole shrimp, California tiger salamander, and burrowing owl. The topography of the bank is characteristic of the natural grassland and vernal pool landscape of the Jepson Prairie; it is flat except for shallow depressions and small hillocks collectively referred to as mima mound micro-relief. The Bank contains 12 playa pools which are probably the most distinguishing features on the property. These pools are characteristic by highly turbid water and range in size from a quarter acre to over 22 acres. If conditions are suitable during the field trip, the property should provide an excellent show of native wildflowers and we hope to provide opportunities to see California tiger salamander larvae and vernal pool tadpole shrimp.

Field Trip #6 Cosumnes Floodplain Mitigation Bank & Nicolaus Ranch Conservation Bank

Hosted by Westervelt Ecological Services (40 minute drive)

This tour explores a salmon and wetlands mitigation bank on the Cosumnes Floodplain Mitigation Bank and Nicolaus Ranch Conservation Bank – a valley elderberry longhorn beetle bank, located along the last undamed river in California, the Cosumnes River. Established in 2009, the 495-acre Cosumnes was one of the first wetland banks approved under the 2008 federal Wetlands Compensatory Mitigation Rule. We will see how this former vineyard was restored to a tidally influenced floodplain that provides mitigation for riparian, perennial, and seasonal wetland habitats and benefits native salmonids. Cosumnes is approved by the National Marine Fisheries Service, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers. From there, we will travel to Nicolaus Ranch Conservation Bank where a recently restored riparian habitat focuses on the recovery and protection of the endangered valley elderberry longhorn beetle (VELB). The VELB is completely dependent on its host plant, elderberry, which occurs in riparian and other woodland and scrub communities. Approved in 2016 by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the project is an example of preserved and permanently protected VELB habitat that expands the riparian community in this area.