California mountain lions and other wildlife will benefit from a round of projects recently approved by the Wildlife Conservation Board. Projects include land acquisitions, habitat restorations, and improved access to critical wildlife territories - much of it funded through the 30-year-old Habitat Conservation Fund (HCF).
At its May 20 meeting, the Wildlife Conservation Board (WCB) approved $36.2 million in grants. Projects that will get funding through the HCF include:
A $635,000 grant to acquire 22 acres of riparian and floodplain habitat along the Santa Clara River in Los Angeles County. The project, called Robin's Nest, will link critical habitat areas for numerous large mammals, including mountain lions, black bear, deer, and American badger.
A $10 million grant to acquire 235 acres that provide critical linkage both for movement of wildlife and species adaptation to climate change. The property is in the greater Coyote Valley corridor in Santa Clara County. The acquisition is part of a larger project to connect multiple trails and wilderness areas to maintain live-in habitat as well as daily and seasonal movement for bobcats, mountain lions, and other native species.
$880,000 to expand the Smith Creek Wildlife area in the SE corner of the Sierra Valley. This project will benefit the Loyalton-Truckee interstate deer herd as well as mountain lions, bobcats, and badgers.
Established in 1990 when voters approved Proposition 117, the HCF provides grants for projects that acquire and restore habitat to benefit fish and wildlife - including endangered species – in California. Last year, the legislature and Governor Newsom extended the fund for an additional 10 years.
The Wildlife Conservation Board approved projects that will be funded through sources other than the HCF. The projects that most directly benefit mountain lion habitat include:
$1.3 million to help the Truckee Donner Land Trust acquire 200 acres to preserve wildlife corridors and habitat linkages near Truckee in Nevada County.
$378,000 to make the Santa Ana to Palomar Mountains linkage more accessible to wildlife. The passageway is meant to help wildlife safely cross Interstate 15, but researchers have noted that mountain lions and other wildlife often approach the linkage without crossing. This project will address conditions that are believed to be preventing regular wildlife usage, including habitat disruption and unauthorized human presence.