On a mild mid-May afternoon, several members of the Eastern Contra Costa Habitat Conservation Plan Public Advisory Committee were given a tour of three properties that were newly acquired by ECC HCP funds.  These lands will be conserved in perpetuity and have directed management as approved by the ECC HCP Conservancy.  Conservancy staff directed the tour which was in the Byron/Vasco area, a transistion zone between the Bay Area and the Central Valley.

Vaquero Farms South

Alkaline soils and alkaline scalds were found in some of the deep valleys of the Vaquero Farms South property.  Here is a natural Northern Claypan Vernal Pool that is still filled with water well into May.

Brittlescale - Atriplex depressa

Brittlescale (Atriplex depressa) is a native Californian plant that thrives in alkaline soils.  This plant is predominantly restricted to the Central Valley, although some populations are found in adjacent ecotones.  This plant is state-protected and is ranked as a CNPS 1B.2 plant.

Vaquero Farms North landscape

The Vaquero Farms North landscape feels like an extension of the Southern parcel minus the windmills.  We spotted both a golden eagle and a pair of burrowing owls as we traveled through this landscape.  Also, a locally rare tarplant – Lobb’s tarplant (Deinandra lobbii) was observed on this parcel in full flower.

looking from N to S - Vaquero Farms

EBCNPS is trying to coordinate a late summer field trip to the Vaquero properties in order to view some of the rare alkaline plants in flower.  Please note, this area is not yet open to the public.  Stay tuned for more information.

EBCNPS has been impressed with the success of the implementation of the Habitat Conservation Plan.  Although very little development has occurred in this area since the approval of the plan, the implementation has been well funded by federal grants and matching funds from the EBRPD.  We are encouraged that implementation of this plan will continue to value stewardship and restoration of resources in Eastern Contra Costa county.