Bridgeway Island Pond is a birding hotspot in the Southport area of West Sacramento, famous for its excellent close-up views of an assortment of waterfowl, waterbirds and shorebirds. The pond and adjacent marsh often attract more Blue-winged Teal than any other place in northern California, and last spring it hosted a Garganey, the second one ever in Yolo County.
The pond is sandwiched between a residential area and a warehouse district. The parcel immediately to the north of the pond had been undeveloped until last year, with a warehouse facility now in the works that will eventually include about five hundred truck bays. Residents on the opposite side of the pond, concerned about impacts from lighting and noise on both themselves and the birds, began to investigate the development deal in earnest about a year ago.
It turned out that City ordinances require mitigation in the form of barriers between the warehouse facility and the pond, namely, an eight-foot fence with vegetation on it, plus a row of trees and other vegetation. The developer and the City Planning Department instead wanted a variance that would avoid the time and expense of putting up barriers.
The developer appeared to be working from a development agreement that was based on an environmental impact report prepared before the pond was built, which was in 2002. Thus, the wildlife values and needs of the area materially changed after the EIR was written.
The group of residents tried for many months to talk to the Planning Department, without success. After a series of letters, a petition, and testimony at City Council meetings about the need for mitigation, the Council decided that the warehouses could not be occupied until City staff came to an agreement with the group of residents about the barriers.
In December the Council accepted all of the mitigation requests from the resident group—namely, those required by ordinance: a fence covered with vines and a screen of trees (cedars and cypresses) across the warehouse side of the pond. A combination of neighborhood activism, persistence, and City Council involvement paid off for birds and people.
For more information, please contact the leader of the citizen group, Edna Bohannon, at firstname.lastname@example.org. And go visit the pond to see for yourself.
Michael Perrone, Conservation Chair, YAS