Prichard Lake Preserve

Area: 42.7 Acres

Location: City of Sacramento, Sacramento County, California

Date Acquired: 2007

Acquisition Type: CNLM holds a conservation easement as well as a long-term agreement to manage and protect the imperiled giant garter snake and its habitats on the preserve. The preserve is owned by third party.

Key Habitats: Freshwater/Aquatic Wetland and California Annual and Perennial Grassland.

Species of Special Interest to CNLM: Giant garter snake (Thamnophis gigas)


The 217-acre Willey Wetlands Preserve is owned by the Sacramento County Airport System and provides habitat for the Giant garter snake (Thamnophis gigas), which is listed as a federally and state threatened species. Since April of 2008, the Center for Natural Lands Management (CNLM) has held the conservation easement as well as a perpetual agreement to manage the Preserve.

Conservation Significance

The Preserve includes freshwater marsh wetlands, freshwater marsh slough-like channels, and seasonal wetlands. Ten acres of upland habitat was created to provide basking and hibernation habitat for the giant garter snake. Several of the adjacent properties have N029_2010-05-25_pp4-1been historically leased for rice production purposes. However, because this practice attracts bird species that are hazardous to aircraft, this use is being restricted or discontinued as leases have expired.  While the Prichard Lake Preserve is within the boundaries of the Natomas Basin Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP), the Preserve is not covered by this plan.

Because of the diverse habitats on the Preserve, both natural and created, there is a large variety of species currently and potentially on site. Two special status animal species (Swainson’s hawk (Buteo swainsoni) and western burrowing owl (Athene cunicularia)) have been observed on adjacent lands, and have the potential to occur on the Preserve. Although no special-status plant species have been identified during surveys on the Preserve, at least two, rosemallow (Hibiscus lasiocarpus) and Sanford’s sagittaria (Sagittaria sanfordii), have the potential to occur on site, given their proximity to known populations.

Our Work

CNLM’s primary goals for the Prichard Lake Preserve are to protect the restored marsh as habitat for native species, maintain suitable areas (including the created upland areas) as desirable habitat for the giant garter snake, and to minimize attracting wildlife to the Preserve which could be a hazard due to proximity to low-flying aircraft and the airport.  These species include white-faced ibis (Plegadis chihi), ducks and geese (Anatidae sp.) and herons and egrets (Ardeidae sp.). A major tool at this Preserve is control of the waterlevels including maintaining shallow tule areas as well as deep water channels which provide GGS both foraging and cover while discouraging hazardous bird use.

Public Access

Due to the vulnerability of the species and habitats that exist on this Preserve, it is not open to the public.


For information on Prichard Lake Preserve or Center for Natural Lands Management, please contact Eric Olson, Preserve Manager at or 760.731.7790 extension 206.