Sutter Basin

Area: 424 acres

Location: Near the City of Nicolaus, Sutter County, California

Date Acquired: 2008

Acquisition Type: CNLM holds a conservation easement on the property.  The preserve is owned by third party

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


The Sutter Basin Preserve was established in July of 2008, when the Center for Natural Lands Management (CNLM) accepted a conservation easement on this property. The conservation easement ensures that the land will not be developed for other purposes and will be managed in a way that enhances habitat for the giant garter snake (Thamnophis gigas). The role of CNLM is to monitor the Preserve and ensure that the terms of the conservation easement are maintained in perpetuity.

Conservation Significance

This 424-acre Preserve provides high quality habitat for the giant garter snake (Thamnopsis gigas), which has been designated as a threatened species by both the Federal and State governments. The giant garter snake is endemic to the wetlands of central California. The snake’s habitat requirements vary throughout its yearly cycle of activity. During the active period (early spring through late fall), it needs access to water, emergent vegetation such as cattails (Typha spp.) for foraging and cover, and grassy banks for basking. It retreats to higher elevation uplands for cover and refuge during its dormancy period in the winter. True to its name, the giant garter snake can reach at least 63 inches in length. Its color varies from brownish to olive, with a yellow dorsal (back) stripe and two light-colored lateral (side) stripes.

The giant garter snake has been affected by habitat loss and fragmentation due to flood control activities, changes in agricultural and land management practices, predation from introduced species, and water pollution. Giant garter snakes were documented in the canals of the Sutter Basin Preserve in the summer of 2007. This land also provides habitat for diverse bird species such as the yellow-headed blackbird (Xanthocephalus xanthocephalus), Ross’s goose (Chen rossii), and white-faced ibis (Plegadis chihi).

Our Work

The Sutter Basin Preserve is owned and managed by Westervelt Ecological Services. Management goals aim to protect the habitats and species that depend upon the Preserve for survival. Management strategies include the management of water levels within wetland areas and uplands for the benefit of giant garter snake.

The Sutter Basin Preserve is also a conservation bank. As such, it can provide environmental mitigation for projects on similar habitat types or affecting the species protected on this preserve. For pending sales and price information, contact Travis Hemmen of Westervelt Ecological Services at (916) 646-3644 or

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 Sutter Basin Preserve or Center for Natural Lands Management, please contact Eric Olson, Preserve Manager at or 760.731.7790 extension 206.