May 25, 2014 — Merced County, Calif. – The approval of the Dutchman Creek Conservation Bank (DCCB) by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife adds 501 acres in Merced County for the protection of state and federally listed species and their habitats. The DCCB contributes to theGrassland Ecological Area Core Recovery Unit of the San Joaquin Valley Vernal Pool Region, a natural lands matrix comprised of several existing conservation banks, conservation easements, and the Merced National Wildlife Refuge, totaling over 10,000 acres focused on the safeguard of species and their habitats.
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. Situated in a priority movement corridor, Dutchman Creek is owned by Westervelt Ecological Services and is the private company’s first bank to provide credits for the federally-endangered and state-threatened San Joaquin kit fox (Vulpes macrotis mutica).
The DCCB service areas include portions of Stanislaus, Merced, Mariposa, Madera, Fresno, Tulare, Tuolumne, Calaveras, Contra Costa, Alameda, San Joaquin, Kings and Kern counties and will assist in fulfilling the species mitigation needs resulting from development along the Highway 99 and Interstate 5 corridor, a significant economic growth area.
DCCB is protected in perpetuity by a conservation easement, funded by a non-wasting endowment, and continues to be managed using grazing practices that enhance vernal pool and valley grassland habitats, benefit listed species, and support local contracted cattle ranching operations. The first release of credits has been issued.