Conservation at Stanford

Good for Stanford University!  They care about conserving the endangered species on their lands, which include the California tiger salamander, steelhead, California red-legged frog, Western pond turtle and San Francisco garter snake.

StanfordThe University, with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries Service, has developed a plan to conserve the species.  The plan will be open for public comment from May 25 to July 15.

As with most habitat conservation plans, which are supported by the U.S. Endangered Species Act, the plan is comprehensive.  50 years for a land conservation plan apparently is considered long-term.

Over 1,000 habitat conservation plans have been granted by the U.S. federal government.  Their purpose is to ensure that operations are done in a way that is thoughtful about protected species.

Some ideas as to what this looks like in Stanford’s case are:

– Based on almost ten years of conservation biology surveys, monitoring and enhancements, Stanford’s lands will be divided into 4 habitat zones, each with a conservation program and efforts

– a 315-acre California tiger salamander reserve will be established in the lower foothills

Turtle in a pond– ponds will be created together with tunnels across a nearby major street

– impeding structures in streams that impact steelhead migration will be removed

– basking platforms will be created for Western pond turtles

If Stanford decides to develop any area within the habitat zones, the land must be offset with easements that are three times the amount of the developed land.

They’re also doing some interesting research at Stanford.  A geologist is participating in a National Academy of Sciences study that found that increased acidity of seawater and higher carbon dioxide in the atmosphere wiped out 90 percent of marine species and three quarters of land species 250 million years ago.  And that’s similar to the conditions that are being created on Earth today.

Even though such developments may make today’s habitat conservation plans obsolete, such plans are key to helping species survive.  As long as we still have viable populations of species, we can help them survive in the future.

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Alison Wheatley

Alison Wheatley

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