A 222-mile stretch of the Sacramento River would open for new voluntary landowner efforts to improve rare species habitat under a proposed agreement between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) and the California Department of Fish and Game (Department) on one hand and the Sacramento River Conservation Area Forum (Forum).
Termed a Safe Harbor Agreement, the voluntary pact between the federal government and the Forum would give landowners along the river the opportunity to gain legal protection from violating the federal and state Endangered Species Acts while they improve native habitat in the course of their ranching and farming operations.
Under the draft SHA, seven species could benefit from landowner activities, the federally listed valley elderberry longhorn beetle and giant garter snake, and the state-protected western pond turtle, Swainson's hawk, bank swallow, willow flycatcher and western yellow-billed cuckoo.
The species would benefit from a number of good land management practices carried out by property owners along the river, such as maintaining good tree cover, planting and protecting elderberries, removing invasive species and avoiding essential habitats during breeding. The activities would be consistent with the landowners' overall needs.
The draft SHA would cover the main stem Sacramento River from river mile 80, its Feather River confluence at Verona, upstream to mile 302 at Keswick Dam, just above Redding.
"Voluntary partnerships with farmers and ranchers who know and understand the Sacramento River riparian habitat is an ideal way to help at-risk species," says Susan K. Moore, Field Supervisor in the Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office. "The Sacramento River Safe Harbor Agreement will be a major step forward in the common effort to recover these important species."
According to Beverly Anderson-Abbs, manager of the Forum, "The Safe Harbor Agreement will be an excellent example of the landowners and the agencies working together to find workable solutions to the challenges we face in restoring these species."
The Sacramento River Conservation Area Forum is a non-profit organization that helps guide cooperative efforts to protect, restore and enhance the fisheries and riparian habitat along the Sacramento River from Keswick Dam Verona.