February 18, 2010

BLM Acquires Habitat for Pine Hill Preserve

For Release: February 18, 2010 #CA-CC-10-30
Contact: David Christy (BLM) - (916) 941-3146
              Elizabeth Vasquez (Reclamation) - (916) 988-1707
              Alan Ehrgott (ARC) - (530) 295-2190

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) signed papers Wednesday to add nearly 700 acres of habitat for rare plants and other species to the Pine Hill Preserve.

The Kanaka Valley purchase is located in the central Sierra foothills in western El Dorado County, north of Highway 50 and southeast of Folsom Lake, approximately 30 miles east of Sacramento.

The 695-acre purchase was a cooperative effort by BLM, the Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation), and the American River Conservancy. Reclamation provided $4,749,000 from the Folsom Dam Joint Federal Project (JFP). Reclamation also provided $671,000 through two Central Valley Project Conservation Program (CVPCP) grants to the American River Conservancy to acquire property with multiple federally listed gabbro soil plant species; these lands are also being conveyed to BLM to own and manage. In addition, Reclamation provided $301,000 to pay for acquisition costs and some management activities.

“The Kanaka Valley purchase will protect populations of federally listed plant species and connect the Salmon Falls and Martel Creek units of the preserve. The property provides a wildlife corridor and links between extensive federal and state public lands along the South Fork American River and protected lands within the preserve,” said Bill Haigh, BLM Mother Lode Field Office manager.

The JFP, now under construction at Folsom Reservoir, includes building a new spillway, which will provide improved hydrologic control of storm-induced floods and addressing hydrologic (flood), seismic (earthquake), and static (seepage) risks to the main Folsom Dam, right and left wing dams, Mormon Island auxiliary dam, and dikes 4, 5, and 6. The “footprint” of the JFP involved clearing approximately 160 acres of habitat -oak woodland, riparian, and chaparral- at Folsom Reservoir to make room for the new infrastructure.

The CVPCP implements actions that will protect, restore, and enhance special-status species and their habitats affected by Reclamation’s Central Valley Project. Fee title acquisition of critical gabbro soil plant habitat within the Pine Hill Preserve meets the objectives of the CVPCP.

Michael Finnegan, Central California area office manager for Reclamation, said, “By working with BLM and others in partnership, Reclamation is able to fulfill a very important part of JFP-related commitments by preserving oak woodland habitat and helping to protect rare plants.”

The Kanaka Valley is a low-elevation wet meadow system that naturally stores rain water and moderates the release of seasonal flood waters to Folsom Reservoir. It was named for the Native Hawaiians known as Kanakans who came to California just before the gold rush. They settled in the valley and said it reminded them of their native land.

The Kanaka Valley purchase partially fulfills JFP mitigation requirements and provides 343 acres of blue oak woodland, valley oak woodland, blue oak foothill pine, and montane hardwood, as well as 100 acres of riparian habitat along Jill’s Creek and Crocker Creek, both of which flow into Folsom Reservoir and support native fish populations. The parcels also contain 167 acres of chaparral, which provides habitat for seven rare plants, and includes known and potential habitat for four federally listed plant species.

BLM will develop a management plan for the area that will include some public access in non-critical habitat areas. For additional information, contact Graciela Hinshaw, Pine Hill Preserve manager, at (916) 941-3134, graciela_hinshaw@ca.blm.gov. The Pine Hill Preserve was established to protect rare native plants in El Dorado County that occur on a particular soil type known as gabbro soils. The Preserve has more than 4,000 acres centered on Green Valley Road and stretches from Folsom Reservoir in the north to Highway 50 in the south.