Saturday, April 18, 2015
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Potrero Hills Landfill relocating rare salamanders

salamander, 12/21/12

Jim Dunbar shows off one of the traps for California tiger salamanders at the Potrero Hills Landfill. Biologists are collecting the salamanders and moving them to another location because of planned expansion of the landfill. (Brad Zweerink/Daily Republic)

By
From page A1 | January 13, 2013 |

FAIRFIELD — A nighttime storm pounds the grassy, rural hills containing Potrero Hills Landfill and a creature seldom seen emerges from burrows and crevices for a rare journey.

That’s when it’s California tiger salamander time. That’s when the 8-inch-long black salamander with white or yellow stripes travels through dark fields for up to a mile looking for its breeding pond.

“They’ve been co-existing 30 years with the current landfill,” said Jim Dunbar of Potrero Hills Landfill.

But Potrero Hill Landfill wants to expand its active operations into a 215-acre field that contains the salamanders. A five-year quest is under way to remove California tiger salamanders from the field and bring them to another part of the landfill property.

Dunbar on a recent rainy morning drove a van across a muddy, hilly road to reach the trapping area. He had to hike the last quarter-mile because the road became treacherous and he didn’t want the van to slip down an embankment.

The traps are far from elaborate. Dunbar stopped near a small, white bucket buried in the ground with wood over the top. A gap between the wood and the top of the bucket allows a wandering salamander to fall inside.

Biologists with LSA Associates are doing the trapping. They had found no salamanders this particular morning because the rain had arrived after daylight, somewhat later than the previous day’s weather reports predicted. The salamander shuns the daylight for its treks.

Virtually anytime a substantial chance of rain is forecast at night, the biologists come out the next morning. They check 540 buckets containing sponges to keep any trapped salamanders moist.

These traps are designed to catch salamanders, but not other creatures. A string extending from the top to the bottom of the bucket allows beetles and spiders to crawl out and escape. It’s a lifeline for insects and arachnids that does the salamanders no good, given that they can’t climb string.

A plastic-mesh fence around the 215 acres prevents relocated salamanders from returning. Potrero Hills Landfill is creating what is designed to be a new salamander homeland on its property, an area that will remain preserved for the rare creatures, complete with breeding ponds.

Dunbar’s expertise is landfills. He can also recite quite a few facts about the California tiger salamander. That’s because the landfill business and the salamander have become somewhat intertwined for him.

Potrero Hills Landfill has had to address the presence of the California tiger salamander since it proposed expanding the landfill in 2003. At the time, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service classified the salamander as a candidate for threatened or endangered status. It has since declared the salamander as endangered.

“The tiger salamander is a cryptic species that spends the majority of its life underground in rodent burrows and cracks in the soil,” the November 2003 draft environmental report for the project said. “Adults are typically observable for only a very short time each year as they move to aquatic breeding sites.”

California tiger salamanders may be rare in general, but not at Potrero Hills Landfill. Researchers found adults in much of the proposed expansion area and salamander larvae in ponds.

All mitigation steps for California tiger salamander loss must take place within the salamander’s known range in southern Solano County, as opposed to another county where the creature is found, the 2003 report said. That southern Solano County range is from Potrero Hills in Suisun Marsh to the Jepson Prairie in the flatlands near Highway 113.

In subsequent years, the California tiger salamander issue came up repeatedly as various federal, state and regional agencies had their say. A major issue was how much land to preserve to make up for the wildlife habitat lost to landfill expansion.

In October 2010, the Bay Conservation and Development Commission issued a permit requiring the landfill to preserve six properties totaling 993 acres for various rare creatures, including the California tiger salamander.

A Solano County Superior Court judge in December 2013 called for BCDC to vacate its permit for the Potrero Hills Landfill expansion because of another issue related to a creek. It remains to be seen how that matter will turn out.

But the salamander hunt goes on as the rainy season continues. This is year two of the effort and Dunbar said more than 200 salamanders have been relocated.

Reach Barry Eberling at 427-6929 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/beberlingdr.

Barry Eberling

Barry Eberling

Barry Eberling has been a reporter with the Daily Republic since 1987. He covers Solano County government, transportation, growth and the environment. He received his bachelors of art degree from the University of California, Santa Barbara and his masters degree in journalism from the University of California, Berkeley.
LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | 1 comment

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

  • JoseJanuary 13, 2013 - 5:18 pm

    This is why government agencies are important. If it hadn't been for the EPA or other conservationist organizations the landfill would have been expanded without giving these beautiful creatures a second thought. I'm glad to hear that even the smallest life forms are being considered in the face of progress. This story made me happy.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
.

Solano News

 
 
Child care program helps teen parents, students

By Susan Winlow | From Page: A1, 4 Comments | Gallery

 
Wood students entertain guests at Epcot

By Susan Hiland And Susan Winlow | From Page: A2

 
 
 
Solano County Science Fair continues to grow

By Bill Hicks | From Page: A4 | Gallery

 
Take stock of where you are now, and act

By Murray Bass | From Page: B8

 
Fairfield police log: April 16, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A9

Suisun City police log: April 16, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A9

 
Weather for Saturday, April 18, 2015

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B10

.

US / World

Family awarded rights to rare coins

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Dog flu outbreak sweeps across the Midwest

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5, 2 Comments

AG announces anti-bias training program

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
 
 
Iraqi officials believe Saddam’s top deputy killed

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

Germany mourns citizens lost in plane crash

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
Following Alps crash, debate over pilotless planes heats up

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

.

Opinion

 
Time for meaningful financial reform

By Paul A. Volcker | From Page: A8, 4 Comments

 
.

Living

Today in history: Saturday, April 18, 2015

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Community Calendar: April 18, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

Horoscopes: April 18, 2015

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: A7

 
My daughter is upset that I didn’t attend my former in-law’s funeral

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: A7

Idea from Adam Sandler film used to soothe dementia patients

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
.

Entertainment

.

Sports

Athletics fall to Royals 6-4 in rematch of AL wild-card game

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Warriors, Pelicans enter series with different pedigrees

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Prep softball: Seldon powers Rodriguez to victory over Armijo

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B1

 
JC baseball: Falcons win as Pavlovsky, Evans homer

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B1

Prep badminton: Mustangs roll to 15-0 win over Wolves

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B1

 
Prep baseball: Haney hurls Vanden to 3-2 win over Benicia

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B1

Armijo nears girls soccer title with 2-0 MEL win

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B1

 
SCAC girls roll past MEL 55-28 in All-Star hoops game

By Marcus Lomtong | From Page: B1 | Gallery

SCAC boys slip past MEL in entertaining All-Star game

By Marcus Lomtong | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Brazil eyes historic medal haul in 2016 Rio Olympics

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

2 weeks before Mayweather-Pacquiao, not a ticket to be seen

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Big Ten’s Delany lays out plan for freshman ineligibility

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Collmenter shuts down Giants, gets three hits in D-backs win

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Merritt’s 61 trumps Masters champion Spieth’s 62

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

 
2 minor league baseball teams to test game with 5-pitch rule

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

NBA could alter schedule, but no change to playoffs, lottery

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Coonan stepping down as Santa Clara’s athletic director

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel says he “let down” fans

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
49ers fullback Miller at home in Georgia after March arrest

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Rockhold hopes win over Machida launches him into contention

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Martina Hingis to make singles comeback in Fed Cup match

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Injured Giants fan throws out first ball in San Jose

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Flyers fire head coach Craig Berube after 2 seasons

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Hornets GM Cho: Stephenson ‘didn’t work like we expected’

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Before ruling out an upset in NBA East, listen to these guys

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3 | Gallery

 
Western Conference teams face perilous path to NBA Finals

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
This date in sports history for April 18

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

Back on the USA Network: Sports return with NHL playoffs

By The Associated Press | From Page: B10

 
.

Business

California home prices hit new 7-year high, sales rebound

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

 
Secrecy shrouds decade-old oil spill in Gulf of Mexico

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5 | Gallery

Frederick’s of Hollywood reveals closing of retail stores

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

 
Don’t plan to line up for Apple Watch next week

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

Google shaking up search recommendations on smartphones

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

 
Glaxo recalls flu vaccine due to potency problem

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5, 4 Comments

.

Obituaries

Douglas Craig Sparks

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Carole Anspach

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

Dennis Burkhart von Ting

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
.

Comics

Beetle Bailey

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Get Fuzzy

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Rose is Rose

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Pickles

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Peanuts

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Dilbert

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

For Better or Worse

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Baldo

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Garfield

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Sally Forth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Baby Blues

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Wizard of Id

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Frank and Ernest

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Blondie

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

B.C.

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Zits

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Crossword

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

 
Word Sleuth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

Sudoku

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

 
Cryptoquote

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

Bridge

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7