Science in Service of Conservation – Vernal Pool Management Discussion
On May 24, 2018, a group of scientists, wildlife agency staff, and conservation practitioners gathered at the iconic (vernal pool) Mather Preserve in Sacramento County to discuss objectives and methods to best protect the conservation values of this iconic vernal pool ecosystem. This ~1,272-acre Preserve, owned by the County of Sacramento, is protected primarily for the purpose of conserving its endangered species and sensitive habitats. Organized and lead by the Center for Natural Lands Management (CNLM)—the entity selected to manage the Preserve for the property owner—the participants visited particular areas of the Preserve to view and discuss, among other topics, vernal pool monitoring and management and pilot programs to manage vegetation—such as grazing trials and a planned controlled burn. Discussions highlighted the interest in investigating the history of the vernal pools to better understand current conditions and the importance of determining best management practices to protect the iconic features—the vernal pools—especially in the context of rapid climate change. The biodiversity of the preserve, presence and value of pollinators, and interactions among native and non-native species were variously discussed. Among the participants were current and retired faculty of the University of California, Davis and California State University-Sacramento; and staff from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, California Native Plant Society, Sacramento County, Sacramento County Airport System, and CNLM. The adaptive management approach CNLM has initiated here, including conducting applied research and collaborating with resource protection agencies and researchers, is also practiced on CNLM preserves across the State and reflected in the over 50 collaborations between CNLM and research scientists formalized to date (see https://cnlm.org/conservation-innovation-2/research-others/).