Willey Wetlands

Area: 217 acres

Location: Sutter County, California

Date Acquired: 2008

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: Fresh water Aquatic/Wetland and California Annual and Perennial

Spaces 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

With only 13 populations of giant garter snake remaining in California, Willey Wetlands Preserve provides significant and critical habitat for the garter snake.  Approximately 87 acres of  aquatic habitat on the Preserve provides the giant garter snake with access to water and emergent vegetation for foraging and cover during its active period from early spring through late fall. The remaining 129 acres are upland habitat, which provides the cover and refuge the giant garter snake requires during its dormancy period in the winter. In addition to the giant garter snake, the burrowing owl (Athene cunicularia), a special-status species, has been observed on the site. The Preserve also hosts a wide diversity of native California flora and fauna.

Our Work

CNLM’s primary goals are to protect and manage the restored marsh as habitat for giant garter snake.  This includes maintenance of appropriate water levels within the Preserve which encourage giant garter snake use and, to minimize attracting waterfowl to the Preserve which could be a hazard due to proximity to low-flying aircraft and the airport.

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 Willey Wetlands or Center for Natural Lands Management, please contact Eric Olson, Preserve Manager at  eolson@cnlm.org or 760.731.7790 extension 206.