Conservation

The Yolo HCP/NCCP contains specific and measurable biological goals and objectives, as well as conservation measures that will mitigate the impacts of covered activities and provide for the conservation of covered species. The specific elements of the Yolo HCP/NCCP conservation strategy include:

  • Conserve, restore, and provide for the management of representative natural and semi-natural Communities

  • Establish reserves that provide for the conservation of covered species within the Yolo HCP/NCCP geographic area and linkages to adjacent habitat outside the Plan Area

  • Protect and maintain habitat areas large enough to support sustainable populations of covered species

  • Incorporate in the reserve system a range of environmental gradients and high habitat diversity to provide for shifting species distributions in response to changing circumstances (e.g., in response to climate change)

  • Sustain the effective movement and genetic interchange of organisms between habitat areas in a manner that maintains the ecological integrity of the reserve system

Designed to meet the regulatory requirements of the federal Endangered Species Act (FESA) and the Natural Community Conservation Planning Act (NCCPA), the conservation strategy will also streamline compliance for covered activities with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), and other applicable environmental regulations. It builds on the existing conservation efforts in Yolo County, adding a total of 20,381 acres to the 90,967 acres of existing protected lands. In addition, the conservation strategy will improve protection on 8,000 acres of existing protected lands. 

Yolo Regional Conservation Investment Strategy/Local Conservation Plan

 

The Yolo Regional Conservation Investment Strategy/Local Conservation Plan (RCIS/LCP) complements the Yolo HCP/NCCP by providing a voluntary, non-regulatory framework for the conservation of natural communities and certain sensitive species not covered by the HCP/NCCP. As part of this framework, the RCIS/LCP establishes conservation priorities and provides guidelines for avoidance, minimization, and mitigation measures that conserve Yolo County’s biological resources. The strategy will also ensure stakeholders can satisfactorily address conflicts between conservation and other existing land uses.

 

Though the Yolo HCP/NCCP will benefit many of the species and natural communities included in the RCIS/LCP, the RCIS/LCP does not generally provide the same level of protection for covered species and natural communities as the HCP/NCCP, primarily because it is a voluntary and non-regulatory measure. Stakeholders that implement the RCIS/LCP may incorporate it into project-level CEQA compliance, as well as ESA and CESA compliance.

Covered Species

 

 

Yolo County supports a wide array of species, from specialized plants and animals that only occur in the alkali pools and vernal pools of the Central Valley floor to rare butterflies that occur on the ridges of the Coast Range in the northwestern portion of the County. While the Yolo HCP/NCCP and Local Conservation Plan will facilitate conservation benefits for many of these species, the plans focus on the 12 included in the table below due to their rarity and current conservation status. 

Palmate-bracted bird's-beak

The palmate-bracted bird’s-beak is actually a plant! The whole plant stands less than 1 foot tall and is covered in short hairs that excrete salt crystals. Bees help the bird’s-beak transfer pollen between its male and female reproductive systems to produce seeds. Shortages of bees and the invasion of ryegrass are the biggest threats to the limited bird’s beak population.

Valley elderberry longhorn beetle

The valley elderberry longhorn beetle lays between 8-20 eggs per year in bark crevices on the elderberry tree. The baby larvae feed on the stems and branches of the tree for 1-2 years while maturing, then chew a circular hole in which they live for several more weeks. After becoming adults, the beetles emerge into the world and fly freely from shrub to shrub.  

California tiger salamander

Tiger salamanders are endemic to California, meaning they live nowhere else in the world. They breed in ponds and spend most of their adult lives on land, but underground. "Tiger" comes from the white or yellow bars on California tiger salamanders. Instead of drinking water, these salamanders absorb water through their skin while lying in puddles or on top of rocks covered in dew. 

Western pond turtle

Western pond turtles eat a balanced diet of algae, plants, crustaceans and insects, and love to sunbathe on warm summer days. These turtles have been known to bump and shove their turtle friends to fight for prime sunbathing locations. Despite a range of natural predators such as raccoons, bullfrogs and coyotes, the largest threat facing western pond turtles is the destruction of their habitat.

Giant garter snake

Giant garter snakes are often found in rice fields, where they can find small fish, tadpoles and frogs to eat. Female garter snakes grow to be a foot longer and are three times heavier than male snakes. Garter snakes are not dangerous to humans.

Swainson's Hawk

The Swainson’s hawk arrives to the Central Valley from its winter home in Central Mexico around March each year. Breeding mother hawks sometimes travel up to 18 miles from their nests to forage for food. The Swainson’s hawk often will hunt behind tractors to find exposed small rodents. Alfalfa and other row crops provide the best foraging land for Swainson’s hawks.

White-tailed kite

The white-tailed kite has a distinctive white underside with a gray back and red eyes. The kite often nests near fellow kites and raptors such as the Swainson’s hawk. White-tailed kites are often found in areas with high populations of meadow voles, its favorite meal.

The western yellow-billed cuckoo migrates north from South America to California around May each year. They breed in June and July, likely due to a seasonal abundance of large insects. Male and female parents share incubating and brooding duties and deliver food to their young.

Western yellow-billed cuckoo
Western burrowing owl

Burrowing owls do not make their own burrows. They instead choose burrows from other species, most commonly ground squirrels. Burrowing owls often adopt burrows near airports, golf courses and roads.

Least Bell's vireo

The Least Bell’s vireo is a small bird that lives in California during the summer months before migrating to Mexico around August each year. It nests in dense woodlands near rivers. Least Bell’s vireos are noisy birds, and some males chirp up to 15 different types of songs!

Bank swallow

The bank swallow is a small gray and white bird that breeds in burrows on vertical cliffs near bodies of water such as Cache Creek and the Sacramento River. Female bank swallows are quite picky about choosing burrows, and frequently reject burrows that males have painstakingly cleared for them until they find a burrow suited to their high standards.

Tricolored blackbird

The tricolored blackbird is almost entirely black, except for a bright red shoulder patch with a white border, explaining its name. While the red-winged blackbird can be found all over the continent, nearly all tricolored blackbirds are found in California.

Covered Species Status

 

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