Eastern Merced County Vernal Pool Grasslands Conservation Program

Client: USEPA/Eastern Merced Resource Conservation District
Contact: Jon Kelsey, Former RCD President: 209/563-6573


Eastern Merced County supports the largest remaining tracts of vernal pool grasslands in California along with a high concentration of vernal pool-associated endangered and threatened plant and wildlife species. Most of these vernal pool grasslands are on large, privately-owned ranches. From 1998-2005, Vollmar Natural Lands Consulting directed a regional vernal pool conservation and outreach program. We presented public workshops on regulatory, mitigation, and conservation issues pertaining to vernal pools and rangelands. We convened groups of expert scientist and government officials to develop a regional conservation planning approach. We conducted baseline biological surveys and identified target conservation lands. We worked with numerous ranchers and assisted interested ranchers in obtaining financial compensation for establishing conservation easements. We prepared Easement Documentation Reports for all ranches placed under easement. We conducted a state-wide review of existing information and developed grazing guidelines for the conservation and enhancement of vernal pool special-status plants, large branchiopods, and amphibians. We conducted post-easement residual dry matter (RDM) and photopoint monitoring of easement lands. The crowning achievements of this program were the establishment of conservation easements on more than 15,000 acres of high-quality vernal pool grasslands (working cooperatively with The Nature Conservancy) and the publication of a 12-chapter book entitled Wildlife and Rare Plant Ecology of Eastern Merced Countys Vernal Pool Grasslands which provides lasting information on the unique and critical importance of the region's natural resources.


Caltrans 'Madera Pools' Map

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Vollmar Natural Lands Consulting
tel 510.559.9603 • fax 510.559.9605
1720 Solano Ave, Berkeley, CA 94707

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