August 6, 2008

Yolo Moves Closer to Acquiring Former Military Site

By Hudson Sangree, The Sacramento Bee, Calif.

Aug. 6--Yolo County moved forward Tuesday with its effort to acquire a former military site near Davis and transform it into parkland replete with seasonal vernal pools and habitat for burrowing owls.

The U.S. Air Force shuttered its Davis Global Communications Site -- an annex of McClellan Air Force Base -- in the late 1990s.

The site, southeast of Davis, occupies 314 acres of mainly open, undeveloped grasslands near Putah Creek. It is bordered by county roads 35 and 36.

More than half the land was identified by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as containing sensitive wetlands, vernal pools and threatened or endangered species, according to a county staff report.

The parcel is adjacent to the county's Grasslands Regional Park and, if acquired, will be added to the park, county planner Chris Alford told county supervisors at their Tuesday meeting.

She said there would be walking trails and nature tours at the proposed park as well as bird-watching and other activities that would preserve the delicate ecosystem.

About 8 acres of the site were developed in the 1950s with telecommunications equipment, barracks and other buildings.

County officials are hoping the Air Force will help demolish and remove the structures, which contain lead and asbestos, and clean up groundwater contaminants at the site, Alford said.

Under a federal program to return former military bases to local ownership, the county is applying to take possession of the site in a no-cost transfer.

County supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to submit a plan to the U.S. Department of Defense and the Department of Housing and Urban Development for the site's reuse.

"Let's get this thing done," said Supervisor Mariko Yamada, of Davis.


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