2003 CPEO Military List Archive

From: CPEO Moderator <cpeo@cpeo.org>
Date: 28 Nov 2003 20:43:23 -0000
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: [CPEO-MEF] Mather vernal pools rule the day
Mather vernal pools rule the day
County decides not to build a water treatment plant on land deemed key
to a future preserve.
By Mary Lynne Vellinga
Published 2:15 a.m. PST Thursday, November 27, 2003

Sacramento County has dropped its plan to build a water treatment plant
on a part of Mather Field that environmentalists and planners regard as
a crucial piece of a future vernal pool preserve.

"It looked like there wasn't enough (community) support," said Keith
DeVore, director of the county's Department of Water Resources.

He said the department will have to find another spot to build the
facility, which will treat well water piped in for Anatolia, a
subdivision under construction nearby on Sunrise Boulevard.

Anatolia, owned by developer Angelo Tsakopoulos, is part of a larger
community plan area called Sunrise-Douglas that could have up to 22,000

By putting the treatment plant at Mather rather than on Anatolia, the
county intended to create a backup water supply for the new homes and
businesses on the former Air Force base. Numerous wells have been closed
in the area because of contamination from Aerojet.

The deal would have been a good one for the county because developer
fees are paying for the $15 million construction cost of the treatment

DeVore said it would be difficult to find another site where this goal
could be accomplished quickly.

"This was an opportunity lost," he said.

The decision came after opponents packed a Nov. 12 hearing on the
project before the Board of Supervisors.

"There were a lot of eloquent and experienced scientists and lay people
there who explained why that place is really special," said Eva Butler,
who has spent seven years as chairwoman of the California Native Plant
Society's Mather Field Vernal Pool Preservation Campaign.

In a Nov. 3 interdepartmental memo, Sacramento County principal planner
Leighann Moffitt said her staff had been "operating under the
assumption" the 7-acre parcel proposed for the treatment plant would be
preserved as open space.

The stretch of grassland at Eagles Nest Road and Kiefer Boulevard
doesn't actually contain any vernal pools, which is why it was targeted
by the county for development in the first place.

Any project that disturbs wetlands requires a federal permit. Such a
permit takes about two years to obtain -- but the first houses in
Anatolia are slated to need water in about 15 months. DeVore said the
grasslands site would not have required a permit.

But even though they lack vernal pools, the grasslands along Mather's
southern boundary could eventually serve as an important habitat
corridor linking Mather's vernal pools with those to the south that have
been protected from development by the Sacramento Valley Conservancy,
environmentalists and planners say.

"That corridor is really important," Butler said.

The vernal pools at Mather are envisioned as the core of a new preserve
by those working on a plan to mitigate the effects of development on
habitat in the south county.

Vernal pools make up much of the habitat in southeastern Sacramento
County. They are seasonal wetlands that fill with water in the winter,
harboring endangered species such as the fairy shrimp. In spring, they
are ringed with colorful wildflowers.

This article can be viewed at:

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