Lower American River Bank Protection
Sacramento River Bank Protection
North Area Local Project
Natomas Levee Improvement Program
South Sacramento Streams Group
Folsom Joint Federal Project
American River Common Features
Anticipatory Erosion Control Program
Giant Garter Snake
Burrowing Owl
Valley Elderberry Longhorn Beetle
Swainson's Hawk
Vernal Pools
Lower American River Task Force
North Area Round Table
Levee Vegetation Symposium
California Levees Round Table
Valley Elderberry Longhorn Beetle Collaborative

Project History

The South Sacramento Streams Group project is a multi year levee improvement project that began approximately 10 years ago and involves the modification and improvements of levees and channels adjacent to the Sacramento Waste Water Treatment Plant and along portions of Morrison, Elder, Florin and Union House creeks.

Please follow this link for general and up to date information on South Sacramento Streams Group projects:
 § http://www.safca.org/Programs_SoSacStreams.html  §

Project Location

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Department of Water Resources (Central Valley Flood Protection Board) and Sacramento Area Flood Control Agency (SAFCA) plan to improve the levees along Morrison, Elder, Florin and Union House creeks.

Burrowing Owl Mitigation                                       [Photo by R. Jones]Burrowing Owl pic

Burrowing owls (Athene cunicularia) are yearlong residents of open, dry grassland and desert habitats in the Sacramento region and typically nest in burrows created by ground squirrels or other small mammals. Often burrows are found in levees and periodically Burrowing owls (BUOW) may be adversely affected by loss of habitat from planned levee improvements. Such levee improvements usually occur at a time coincidental with the breeding season of the BUOW, which is a species of Special Concern in California and protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. California regulations require project proponents adopt measures that ensure impacts to BUOW are avoided, minimized or mitigated.

Standard practice requires proponents proposing a project in an area of potential BUOW habitat to ascertain the presence or absence of the species by conducting protocol level breeding surveys §Link§ in advance of construction. Depending on the proximity of an established nest or habitat feature a number of measures are implemented to avoid or minimize the impact. In certain situations, adverse impacts such as the destruction of a burrow cannot be avoided. In these circumstances the technique of ‘passive exclusion’ of an active burrow is undertaken to prevent a BUOW from establishing a nest in a levee about to be rebuilt. This technique involves the installation of one way exclusion doors where owls are excluded from an active burrow prior to the initiation of the breeding season (Feb. 1) for at least 48 hours. Following exclusion, burrows are either collapsed or covered with wire mesh to prevent reoccupation. In addition to the passive exclusion method, SAFCA has also implemented a ‘preclusion strategy’ to preempt possible breeding activity by preventing owls from using other available burrows that may exist on a levee slated for construction. This method involves the placement of wire mesh at the entrance of non BUOW occupied cavities, which allows for the escape & movement of snakes and other small mammals that may be in the cavity.

For BUOW impacts associated with the SSSG levee improvements, SAFCA is mitigating impacts at the ratio of 2:1, for every active burrow temporarily or permanently impacted. In addition, 6.5 acres of foraging habitat has been set aside for every active BUOW burrow impacted by the SSSG levee improvements. To date, 20 artificial burrow systems (ABS’s) have been installed on an abandoned agricultural levee on property owned by the County of Sacramento Department of Regional Parks and Recreation that is managed as part of the USFWS Stone Lakes National Wildlife Refuge. Approximately fifty (50) acres of the surrounding landscape has been set aside and managed as foraging habitat. SAFCA anticipates constructing additional ABS’s and setting aside additional acreage for outstanding mitigation obligations in 2009.

 §   Burrowing Owl Impacts and Mitigation  §



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