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Wednesday, September 5, 2007

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Oak Woodlands Threatened by Sierra Foothills Development Proposals


February 2007, www.californiaoaks.org

http://www.californiaoaks.org/html/oak_report_02-07.html



California Oak Report

Sierra Counties Seek Habitat Conservation Plans

Increasingly, Sierra counties are preparing habitat conservation plans (HCP) to address development impacts to oak woodlands and other natural resources. For example, Placer County has completed its HCP and will be submitting the proposal to state and federal wildlife agencies for review. Calaveras County, with financial support from local developers and the grudging acquiescence of ranchers, recently initiated an HCP process.

Oak woodlands are a key component of Sierra foothill HCPs due to the dozens of special status wildlife using these oak habitats. By covering oak woodlands in an HCP, a county gains immunity from the future listing of endangered and threatened species that are associated with oak woodlands. HCPs charge specified mitigation fees for every developed acre, with those monies spent to acquire local wildlife preserves in designated areas. Developers like HCPs because the plans allow them to know the exact cost for habitat loss, and a detailed habitat mitigation plan for each project isn’t required.

As the specifics of Sierra foothill HCPs come before the public, COF will pay particular attention to the maintenance of high-quality oak habitat corridors for all migratory wildlife species. Connectivity between foothill oak woodlands and higher elevation black oak habitats is of paramount importance.

Sierra Big Foots
Below is a list of larger Sierra foothill projects in process, or have draft environmental impact reports pending, that may significantly impact oak woodlands. From Nevada County to Tulare County, these big development footprints are joined by hundreds of smaller projects under 200 acres that are having direct and cumulative impacts to foothill oak habitat, often with little or no meaningful mitigation:

Amador County
Gold Rush Ranch and Golf Resort, Sutter Creek, with 936 homes, 300 units of vacation housing, 60 room resort hotel and championship golf course on 945 acres.

Golden Vale subdivision, Martell, 383 acres and 607 residential units.

Howard Ranch, Ione, 16,000 acres. A couple of hundred acres lie within city limits, while the majority of the property surrounds Ione but is within Amador County's jurisdiction.

Wicklow Way subdivision, Jackson, 201 acres and 750 residential units.

Zinfandel and Shenandoah Ridge developments, Plymouth, about 500 luxury homes on 500 acres.

Calaveras County
Spring Valley project, Valley Springs, 455 acres and 1,000 homes.

Copper Valley Ranch development, 1,500 new homes, marina, hotel and shopping center on 4,350 acres bordering Tulloch Reservoir.

Sawmill Lake development, Copperopolis, 600 new homes and a resort complex on oak woodland bordering the Town Square project.

Madera County
Al Miki Ranch subdivision, 650 homes on 900 acres.

Placer County
Clover Valley
project, Rocklin, 622 acres and 558 homes, resulting in 7,500 oaks removed (draft EIR released).

Tulare County
Sequoia Ranch development, Springville, 1,385 acres and 600 homes.

Yokohl Ranch project, 36,000 acres (60% to be developed) for 9,500 homes, two golf courses and a resort/country club.

Tuolumne County
Mountain Springs project, Valley Springs, 1,063 acres with 897 units planned.

Peaceful Oaks Estates, Standard, more than 300 homes on 600 acres.

Yosemite Grand National Golf and Wetland Preserve, on 557 acres, that would allow a large hotel, 300 time-share units and 50 residential lots.

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