By Catherine Portman
Dear City Council Members and Open Space and Habitat Commissioners,
I was pleased to read in the OSHC January meeting minutes, of the Commission’s wildlife recommendations for the West Davis Active Adult Community’s open space and agriculture buffer. However, I don’t see any specific recommendation for burrowing owl (buow) habitat.
The Burrowing Owl Protections and Conservation Measures, (under Habitat Restoration) presented to the Council and OSHC two years ago, include re-vegetating ag buffers as California native prairie, i.e., forbes, short native grasses, installation of artificial burrows and not planting trees. Grasslands, buow preferred habitat, are the habitat type most rapidly being destroyed.
Lack of historic records that buow occupied an area, doesn’t mean buow didn’t or won’t use it in the future….provided that conditions are favorable. If ag buffers are created to provide critical elements of buow habitat, young dispersing in the fall may claim it (with potential to re-colonize) and winter migrants could be supported. This could slow the decline of the buow population.
Ag buffers provide a unique opportunity to create buow habitat. It requires no land purchase, can be created to require minimal future maintenance, can be a Condition of Approval and the CEQA process and is paid for by the project proponent.
Ag buffers might also be credited to the Yolo Habitat Conservancy’s buow conservation targets.
Thanks for your thoughtful consideration,
Catherine Portman is the President of the Burrowing Owl Preservation Society – A non-profit organization dedicated to increasing the burrowing owl population through education and enhancement of grassland habitat.