Soon afterwards I discovered the area directly north of our part of midtown, and saw that it was disturbed from years of dumping and then neglect. In spite of that or perhaps because of it, wildlife continued to make good use of what became the "north forty". This is the area just west of Sutter's Landing Park & includes the Dellar property.
This large open area connects to the river to the north, better protected habitat to the west and to the east with existing Sutter's Landing Park.The railroad and neighborhood to the form a boundary to the south. As I and others have come to learn, the connections this area makes with these other areas is a big part of its overall importance as habitat and open space here.
I first followed the activities of the many ground squirrels and jack rabbits that very seen from all angles around the area. Up closer, the ground is more uneven and provides refuge and lookouts mixed in with the large open areas where there were flocks of meadowlarks, pigeons, and mixed flocks of blackbirds and sparrows foraging across the weedy grasslands and wet areas. Among all of this activity were the the hunters like me.Above I saw white- tailed kites, red-tailed hawks, northern harriers, kestrels, Swainson's hawks, a solitary burrowing owl, barn owls, great horned owls and more. Many of these raptors nested nearby in our neighborhood trees or the riparian canopy beyond.The fact that they continue to do points to the ongoing value of this area and the role it plays in the overall uniqueness of Sutter's Landing.
About this time I met Robert Swell who like me had been drawn from his home nearby to join the outdoor fun and adventure found here.We compared notes and I filled him in on my observations as he was absorbing them and getting out the camera he'd made a career with before and putting it to new uses, documenting what this forgotten area held as we promoted it as part of our very rich neighborhood to others there.
More recently, FORB and others have focused on the river area and former landfill mound which are more accessible and provide easier viewing of the wildlife and habitat in the area. Meanwhile the "north forty" has continued to function to provide foraging for these same wildlife which continue to nest mostly in adjacent areas. Disturbances ranging from a very large homeless encampment one year and ongoing smaller ones, fires, dumping have also continued.
Along with FORB and others, Friends of Sutter's Landing Park came together with the goal to create a long term vision for the entire area. One that insures that these now too scarce wildlife and nature values continue to be available in our city, community and beyond for future generations. Much thought and energy went into starting this process which has been shared with many others and used very effectively to secure a grant to restore and enhance an area of the park now getting underway.This same information and vision was used to constructively deal with some unnecessary loss of scarce riparian habitat in the park by city staff.
Unfortunately, the same level of communication, coordination, and problem solving have not been applied lately in respect to filling in areas of the Dellar property aka "north forty" and the former stockpile are that still connects the open space and habitat to the west with the park. It's not too late to have a larger long range vision for this entire area which remains a unique and valuable natural resource for Sacramento. See the "Important Issues" webpage for more on this.