Santa Rosa to spend $770,000 on environmental mitigation

Santa Rosa will spend nearly $770,000 to preserve wetlands and endangered species habitat in an effort to offset the environmental disruption caused by three upcoming city projects.

The City Council on Tuesday approved the purchase of mitigation credits aimed at preserving in perpetuity about 9 acres of habitat for the endangered California tiger salamander and other species.

The credits are needed before work can move forward on three long-planned city projects: the restoration of lower Colgan Creek, the Bayer Neighborhood Park and Garden and the manure management project at Beretta Dairy.

Two of the projects being mitigated -#8212; the Colgan Creek and Beretta Dairy -#8212; are themselves aimed at improving the environment.

The credits are being purchased from multiple sources, including property once owned by bankrupt financier Clem Carinalli and a housing developer.

The lower Colgan Creek restoration project proposes to return a 1.3-mile stretch of channelized creek in southwest Santa Rosa to a more natural environment. The banks of the creek will be widened, allowing it to meander, and trees will be planted to create a cooling canopy of shade over the water. A park and bike path are also planned. Work is expected to begin in June.

But before it can begin, the city will need to spend an estimated $262,850 on credits to offset the tiger salamander and wetland habitat that will be destroyed as part of the project.

The Beretta Dairy project also aims to improve an aquatic environment by reducing the amount of phosphorus running off into the Laguna de Santa Rosa. The city's utilities department wants to construct a new manure management pad on about half an acre of pasture that is potential salamander habitat. The project is itself a mitigation effort aimed at offsetting the phosphorus that at times enters the Laguna from the city's Llano Road wastewater treatment plant.

The city expects to spend about $37,180 on the Beretta Dairy credits.

The third project involves the conversion of a 6-acre farm in southwest Santa Rosa into a community park and gardens. Budget pressures have caused the Bayer Neighborhood Park and Garden to be scaled back from what residents originally envisioned for the property. But the project, which is expected to get underway this summer, still involves the construction gardens, fields, playgrounds, a skate park, a pavilion with restrooms and parking.

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