Urban Bird Foundation has joined the American Canyon Clarke Ranch Master Plan process as a stakeholder with the goal of protecting open space and establishing a wildlife rescue hospital. American Canyon, bounded geographically by the Napa River to the west and the foothills of the Sulfur Springs Mountains to the east in Napa County, has recently completed initial discussions as to the future of the Clarke Ranch site.
Clarke Ranch is a beautiful 24-acre parcel of currently undeveloped open space adjacent to the Wetlands Viewing Area and Napa River Bay Trail. The City acquired the land in 1999 and it has since been left largely untouched. In 2009, the City Council adopted a General Plan Amendment to designate Clarke Ranch as Open Space and approved zoning regulations for Clarke Ranch to be maintained as Open Space, Recreation, and/or Wildlife Conservation.
On December 12, 2016, Urban Bird Foundation attended stakeholder discussions and delivered a mixed-use proposal that supports maintaining the current open space for the benefit of wildlife, residents, and the Napa River and Bay Trail visitors, and building a wildlife rescue center. The adjacent Napa River Bay Trail and open space provides great views of the wetlands and constructed ponds as well as public access to the Napa River. The site provides habitat to hundreds of wildlife species including burrowing owl, river otters, and migrating shorebirds, and through a system of trails offers recreational opportunities like hiking, birdwatching, photography, cycling, and on-leash dog walking. Clarke Ranch is currently open grassland, contains a stand of eucalyptus trees providing habitat to raptors, including a bevy of great horned owls, and a small portion of the property is being used by the 4H Club.
Although Urban Bird Foundation understands the need for sports and recreational fields, the organization is advocating preservation of the ecological value of the property and the establishment of Napa County’s first permanent wildlife rescue and rehabilitation center. Currently, Napa County is the only North Bay county that does not have a brick and mortar facility.
As a stakeholder in the Master Plan process, Urban Bird Foundation is working and advocating for the following 4 key points at Clarke Ranch:
- Biological Survey – Prior to any site plans or decisions, a complete biological survey of the entire 24-acre site must be performed.
- Protection of Eucalyptus Tree Grove – Although the grove is a non-native species, the trees do provide valuable habitat to many species including great horned owls. The owls not only forage in the Napa Bay Trail open space, but are routinely observed in the adjacent neighborhood helping to control rodents.
- Protection of Open Space – Ensuring publicly accessible open space and habitat for the benefit of wildlife and people.
- Napa County Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Center – Establishing Napa County’s first brick and mortar facility, while ensuring the integrity of the wildlife habitat (limiting footprint of the facility to approximately 5 acres). A physical facility adjacent to an already established wildlife refuge and trail system would also provide an opportunity for additional benefits including education programs and volunteerism.
Urban Bird Foundation will continue to be engaged as a stakeholder in the Clarke Ranch Master Plan when the process continues in January 2017.