Snowcreek to donate fifteen acres for wildlife conservation
Round Valley Mule Deer may soon have new space to golf, frolic with family and of course eat grass near Snowcreek.
A chunk of land at Snowcreek VIII that is used by the deer was taken during development but is now going to be given back, threefold. As part of the mitigation agreement approved by the Wildlife Conservation Board at its next meeting on November 30, Snowcreek will donate 15 acres for wildlife conservation in exchange for three acres used during development.
In 2014, Snowcreek Development Company, the developer, asked the Town of Mammoth Lakes if it could store three acres of rock and fill on the development site, according to the Wildlife Conservation Board November 30 meeting agenda. As noted in the environmental review of the Snowcreek VIII project, the three acres is important habitat and summer holding grounds for the migrating Round Valley Mule Deer.
The Snowcreek VIII development Environmental Impact Report, Mitigation Measure BIO-4a, mandates that Snowcreek Development Company donate land or funds for purchase of land for compensatory habitat at a 3:1 acreage ratio, or nine acres, to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW). Snowcreek is offering 15 acres, with the extra six acres to be used by the town for future mitigation.
Technically, Snowcreek will donate the land to the Town of Mammoth Lakes, who will then hand over the easement to the CDFW. The Town will manage and protect the land from development in perpetuity, according to John Walsh, Public Information Officer for the Conservation Board.
Nolan Bobroff, Associate Planner for the Town of Mammoth Lakes, explained that Snowcreek is donating the extra six acres of land and accompanying maintenance and management responsibilities to the town. Those six acres can be saved for future mitigation, Bobroff said. He added that maintenance costs for the 6 acres should be minimal.
According to the Wildlife Conservation Board agenda for the November 30 meeting, the donated property includes the southeast portion of the meadow along Mammoth Creek, west of Minaret Road, and north of Golden Creek and Timber Creek Roads and Old Mammoth Road. The land will be added to the 44 acres the town already manages for conservation in the Snowcreek tract.
The land was not appraised, Bobroff explained, because the Wildlife Conservation Board sees value in terms of conservation and habitat for the deer, not monetary worth. He said everyone wins with this agreement; the town has banked mitigation acreage, the deer have a place to hang, and Snowcreek will successfully honor its mitigation plans.