Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Potrero Hills Landfill attempts to mitigate damage to salamander habitat

"Potrero Hills Landfill makes a place for salamanders"
2014-07-16 by Melissa Murphy, photos by Greg Trott, for the "The Reporter" daily newspaper []:
Crews move dirt on property owned by Potrero Hills Landfill in preparation for a new wetlands site designed to help protect salamanders.

While Potrero Hills Landfill in Suisun City waits to move forward on an expansion, it's in the process of creating new wetlands and a new home for the tiger salamander.
The landfill was in the midst of expanding to 167 acres before Solano County Presiding Judge Paul Beeman ruled that the Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC) should vacate its approval of a marsh development permit for the project because he said proponents of the expansion had failed to prove that a reduced size project alternative is economically infeasible.
However, regardless of that particular ruling, the landfill can move forward with mitigation measures in order to be ready for construction when officials are allowed to expand, explained Jim Dunbar, district manager at Potrero Hills.

A California salamander. The creatures are the target of a project by Potrero Hills Landfill to create new wetlands.

The five new habitats for the tiger salamander, a protected species in California, consist of wetlands and ponds on property the landfill already owns.
Construction crews were busy at work Friday morning creating a half an acre pond that will be 5 to 7 feet deep for the tiger salamander. Crews are in crunch time to finish before August.
"This is a necessary activity to maintain our business," Dunbar said. "Land restoration is part of our business and we're building something that will last for decades."
He said the marsh land that sits between the landfill and Travis Air Force Base won't be developed.
"Might as well get use out of it the best way we can," he said. "This is an ecologically sensitive and productive place.
Having the marsh flourish is not a bad thing."
The dirt dug from the ground to create the ponds will be used as daily cover at the landfill.
Biologists are in the process of creature capture, to watch the population of the tiger salamander and to relocate them when the times comes, which is likely during the next rainy season. Once they're relocated, they'll continue to be monitored for 10 years.
"We'll see if the tiger salamander likes his new home," Dunbar said.

Jim Dunbar, a manager at Potrero Hills Landfill shows off a crude trap used to capture salamanders.

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