Monday, January 13, 2020

The Birds of Del Puerto Canyon - A Place That Could Soon Be Damned

This portion of the canyon would be inundated by the proposed reservoir.

The Diablo Range is one of the principle "sub-ranges" of the California's Coast Ranges, running more than 100 miles from Highway 46 at Polonio Pass to the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. There are only a few major highways that cross the range, principally the Altamont Corridor and Pacheco Pass at San Luis Reservoir. There are a handful of state parks that preserve a portion of the range, mainly Henry Coe and Mt. Diablo, but for the most part the lands are privately owned and are given over mainly to grazing and ranching. Only one paved road provides access to the interior of the range north of Pacheco, and that is the winding route of Del Puerto Canyon.
Loggerhead Shrike

Del Puerto is the only public access to the mountain range in Stanislaus County, and as such is one of very few places where anyone can study the unique bird life (and many other animals) in this intriguing place. But now there are plans afoot to eliminate much of that access, and indeed to severely impact the natural environment. There are plans to build a large dam that will inundate five miles of the extraordinarily scenic canyon.
Savannah Sparrow

The canyon is one of the most important bird habitats in Stanislaus County, offering a significant variety of ecosystems, including riparian wetlands, grassland prairies, oak woodland, and a unique serpentine soil-based gray pine habitat. The eBird archives record more than 160 species of birds in the canyon
These pictures, some better, some worse, record two trips in the last year up into the canyon, when I didn't actually have a lot of time for actual birding. They serve to show the wonderful opportunities the canyon has for learning about the fascinating natural history of our region. The proposed dam would have a profound impact on the environment of the lower canyon.
Bullock's Oriole, a summer migrant in the canyon

Black-headed Grosbeak, another summer migrant

Western Tanager

Say's Phoebe in the lower canyon
Northern Harrier in the proposed dam site

Western Kingbird in the lower canyon

There will be many reasons offered as to why this reservoir is SO necessary, and how there will be SO many benefits. But the question needs to be asked, what is this taking away from all of us?

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Read the Environmental Impact Report at this link. If Del Puerto Canyon has significance to you, please respond and be active in the opposition! If you have expertise in any of the areas that will affected, you need to be heard from.

There are several important meetings and deadlines coming up very soon:

1/15 3:30pm Protest. Corner of Ward and Sperry
1/15 4:00pm Public Meeting. Hammon Senior Center 1033 West Las Palmas, Patterson
1/21 6:30pm City Council Meeting. 1 Plaza Circle. - request they take a stand, voice concerns
1/27 5:00pm Public Comments DUE. OR Anthea Hansen PO Box 1596 Patterson CA 95363
1/28 9:00am Board of Supervisors Meeting 1010 10th St Modesto CA - voice concerns, they have final decision

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