Westervelt Ecological Services is pleased to announce the approval of Dutchman Creek Conservation Bank. Approval of Bank by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife adds an additional 501 acres in Merced County, California, for the protection of state and federally listed species and their habitats.
Westervelt worked to establish the Bank with the not-for-profit groups, California Rangeland Trust (Rangeland Trust) and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF). Rangeland Trust holds the Conservation Easement for the Bank and NFWF manages the endowment.
Situated in a priority movement corridor, Dutchman Creek is Westervelt Ecological Services first bank to provide credits for the federally-endangered and state-threatened San Joaquin kit fox (Vulpes macrotis mutica). The site is also important for vernal pool species as it is included in the Central Valley Region population of the California tiger salamander (Ambystoma californiense) (Shaffer, et.al, 2004) and the Grassland Ecological Area Core Recovery Unit for the San Joaquin Valley Vernal Pool Region (Service, 2005). Further, the site incorporates a portion of critical habitat for both the vernal pool tadpole shrimp (Lepidurus packardi) and vernal pool fairy shrimp (Branchinecta lynchi) (Service, 2006). Conservation lands in the surrounding area also provide suitable habitat for listed species, allowing for dispersal of these populations onto the property and throughout the region.
In addition to supporting state and federal species, the project is a multi-benefit project protecting natural hydrologic processes and provides habitat for numerous other animals including bald eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus), golden eagles (Aquila chrysaetos), California ground squirrels (Spermophilus beecheyi), and sandhill cranes (Grus canadensis).
The Bank is approved to provide credits for vernal pool fairy shrimp (Branchinecta lynchi), vernal pool tadpole shrimp (Lepidurus packardi), Conservancy fairy shrimp (Branchinecta conservatio), California tiger salamander (Ambystoma californiense, breeding and non-breeding), Swainson’s hawk (Buteo swainsoni, foraging), Western spade-foot toad (Spea hammondii), and Western burrowing owl (Athene cunicularia hypogea); these credits serve as compensation for impacts to these species and their habitats regulated by both the federal Endangered Species Act and the California Endangered Species Act.
The service area for the Bank includes portions of Stanislaus, Merced, Mariposa, Madera, Fresno, Tulare, Tuolumne, Calaveras, Contra Costa, Alameda, San Joaquin, Kings and Kern counties.
Long-term management of the Bank will include grazing practices that enhance vernal pool and valley grassland habitats, benefit listed species, and support local contracted cattle ranching operations.