It has been an interesting few weeks here at the Cosumnes River Preserve, a wonderful 50,000 acre conservation partnership in California’s Central Valley. I began working here in the Federal Pathways Program in 2011 and thought my time here was ending when I graduated in January. As I was wrapping up my projects and prepping my resume, a co-worker and former CLM intern informed the staff that he was leaving to take a new position in his home state of Iowa. This as it turned out was very fortunate timing for me (though I will miss working with him, great person and great employee) as I was able to take over his position as the Project Manager of a giant garter snake restoration project that is scheduled to begin in late summer of 2015.
After graduation I had the month of February off and used that time to do some travelling. My wife and I went to Park City, Utah for a week, then did some backpacking in the beautiful Desolation Wilderness, and finished with a trip to the Big Island in Hawaii. Needless to say there was a brief struggle in returning to work, but I have jumped in head first and am moving forward with the Badger Creek Restoration Project here at the Preserve.
Though it has only been a few weeks, I am already getting some excellent (and not so excellent) introductions to the wonderful world of state and federal permitting. I have written a few NEPA documents in the past, mostly for small projects/actions here at the Preserve, but this new project is a significant step up in complexity. I am currently working on wrapping up a joint NEPA/CEQA document that will cover both the state and federal requirements necessary to obtain proper permits and complete the project. This should be finished in the next few days (the previous CLMer had already completed a good portion of the document) and we will begin the review process. I will have much more to discuss in the coming weeks regarding the process but I thought I might end with a brief description about what we are doing at Badger Creek (I just realized that this post may end up looking like a Tarantino movie by the time it is over, introduction last?).
The Badger creek restoration project involves two separate but connected parcels of preserve lands that will be restored to provide habitat for the federal and state listed threatened giant garter snake (Thamnophis gigas). The western parcel, known as Horseshoe Lake, is infested with yellow water primrose which will treated and/or mechanically removed to restore open-water foraging habitat. The eastern parcel, the Bjelland Unit, currently exists as ag land with a channelized portion of Badger Creek running along the southern property boundary. This parcel is going to be recontoured to create wetland and upland habitat which connects to the Horseshoe Lake Unit. The final product will be an additional 1.5 miles of restored habitat, and restored connectivity to the existing Badger Creek population of giant garter snakes. I am very excited to be working on this project and will check back in soon with an update.