Monday, October 17, 2011

Calaveras Critters: Nurturing Nature at the Calaveras Dam

Major construction is complicated in any setting, as well as in watershed lands that harbor rare and endangered species, it is doubly so. Members of the Calaveras Dam Replacement Project Environmental Team are on site every minute of every day to ensure that our construction activities do not harm these precious plants and animals. Case in point – last week monitors on site found a juvenile threatened Alameda Whipsnake. It took four specially-trained personnel a long time to carefully capture and move the animal to a safe pre-determined release location far away from construction.

The SFPUC owns and manages approximately 36,000 acres of the Alameda Creek Watershed. The Watershed contains grassland and oak woodland communities that support a wide range of animals including Special Status Species.

Environmental Compliance Manager Cullen Wilkerson, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and California Dept. of Fish & Game approved Biologist, handled the Alameda Whipsnake and relocated it safely to a new habitat nearby.

Alameda Whipsnake (Masticophis lateralis euryxanthus)
Federal Status: Threatened
State Status: Threatened

Description: A slender, fast-moving snake 3 to 4 feet in length with a slender neck, broad head and large eyes. Back is colored sooty black with a distinct yellow-orange stripe down each side.

Habitat: An active daytime predator, adult snakes peak in surface activity during the spring mating season with a smaller peak during late summer and early fall. Rock outcrops are important for retreat opportunities. Generally retreats in November into a small mammal burrow or other shelter, and emerges in March.

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  1. Thank goodness for those biologists being on hand to relocate this precious resource!

  2. Very nice! What a pretty snake.