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Last Chance for Large-scale Conservation
The projected population growth and its potential effects underscore how important it is to seize the opportunity for conservation of the BRBNA now, before resources are permanently lost and the cost of land conservation becomes prohibitive. Once development fragments the landscape, conserving lands on at the broad “landscape” scale will become more and more difficult.
Figure 2: Biodiversity Conservation Priorities
Figure 3: Working Ranch Conservation Priorities
Mapping & Priorities
In 1999, the Partnership began development of an environmental database to help evaluate lands and resources within the BRBNA for conservation and stewardship opportunities. Using these data, Universal Model Builder (UMB) combines many layers of information related to each of the three conservation elements – biodiversity, working ranches and recreation – to identify conservation priorities.
Users can weigh different conservation values based upon the relative importance of those values to the user. UMB promotes informed decisions about conservation projects, enables the Partnership to support proactive regional conservation, and allows partners to prioritize their efforts and get the most conservation value for their dollar. Clear priorities backed up by solid data provide momentum and leverage for activities on the ground.
To create the three conservation priority maps on the following pages, data layers were ranked and combined. These maps illustrate the areas with the greatest concentration of factors that are favorable for that element.
Figure 2 illustrates key biodiversity conservation areas in dark red. These areas include from north to south: Walker Ridge, Wilson Valley, McLaughlin Reserve, Knoxville Recreation Area, Knoxville Wildlife Area and Cedar Roughs. Some of these areas are already in public ownership or have been permanently protected as part of the UC Natural Reserve System or by land trusts.
Sustaining Working Ranches
The working ranch suitability analysis was prepared specifically for cattle grazing. Figure 3 illustrates in dark red those areas of the BRBNA that are most suitable for ranching. Some of these areas are currently in ranching operations while others may not be. Areas in the BRBNA most suitable for ranching are, from north to south: Bear Valley, Cortina Ridge, the eastern slope of the Blue Ridge in Yolo County, and the east side of Lake Berryessa.
Regional recreation experts developed the trails and recreation data and priorities during a May 2004 workshop. Participants identified existing and potential recreation destinations (natural, scenic, cultural, and historic), trailheads or access points, camping areas, and connections. Figure 4 indicates key recreation priorities in the darkest red. Additional recreation priorities include public lands that are not open for public recreation such as Berryessa Peak, BLM lands with constrained access, and Lake Curry. As some of these lands border existing recreation areas, they present potential priority areas for building recreational connectivity within the BRBNA.
Cultural resource conservation priorities include traditional native lands; areas exemplifying the BRBNA’s regional history (e.g. lands used by early settlers or miners); sites threatened due to erosion, vandalism, looting or development; and sites meeting multiple conservation objectives (e.g. cultural resource conservation and recreation). In setting priorities, the Partnership also seeks to uphold federal and state laws designed to protect cultural resources.
Strategies for Conservation
Efforts to protect the BRBNA before it is too late require innovation, regional collaboration, and major public support. Federal state and local agencies, organizations, as well as the people who live, work and play in the BRBNA all have opportunities to participate in the conservation of the BRBNA. Presented here are some of the many avenues and tools for participation.
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