WASHINGTON (CN) - The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and landowners along the Sacramento River have developed a conservation plan for the threatened valley elderberry longhorn beetle and the threatened giant garter snake on non-federal lands.
Under the plan, landowners who make improvements on their property to enhance, restore, or maintain habitat for threatened species enter a Safe Harbor Agreement. The agreement protects property owners from increased property use restrictions as a result of their efforts to attract, maintain or increase species listed under the Endangered Species Act.
Habitat degradation is the principal threat to both the longhorn beetle and the garter snake. Since the beetle was listed as threatened in 1980, more than 50,000 acres of habitat have been designated as critical and 5,000 acres have been restored.
The giant garter snake is one of North America's largest native snakes, reaching up to 64 inches in length. It lives in wetlands and rice farms in California's Central Valley. Many rice farms in the area are switching to dry land farming and this transformation threatens the snake's habitat.