Rocklin firm keeps land wild

Company’s first priority is protecting natural habitats
By: Amanda Calzada, Placer Herald Correspondent
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Roots of the entity that brought the western United States its first mitigation bank in 1994 spread from Seattle to San Diego, yet trace back to Rocklin.

“Our goal is to strike a balance between economic developments. Once we develop a project … its (habitat) is protected forever,” said Brian Monaghan, marketing director for Rocklin-based Wildlands, which advocates superior environmental resources.
With more than 75 projects since its establishment in 1991, Wildlands’ projects exceed 31,000 acres with the goal of implementing solutions that nurture an open market through land acquisition, biological design, engineering and construction of mitigation banks.
The nation’s leader in habitat development enhances water quality and protection of wildlife habitat through various projects. Current pursuits include the preservation of the gnatcatcher bird in San Diego, a signature restoration project to save the salmon in the California Delta and the Rogue Valley Vernal Pool Mitigation and Conservation Bank project of Jackson County, Oregon.
“We see a lot of opportunity for our company in Oregon, and we hope this is just the first of many new projects, as several others are already in planning,” said Julie Mentzer, director of environmental operations for the Pacific Northwest division of Wildlands, based in Portland, on the Wildands blog. 
The 131-acre project approved in February 2012 focuses on the conservation and management of federally listed threatened and endangered species and their respective habitats. When completed, it will be the first such bank in the state of Oregon.
“We do these projects with no burden on the taxpayers. All projects have an endowment associated with them for the species we are saving,” said Monaghan, who added it is very important for the public to appreciate the ecosystems they have.
Wildlands eyes New Orleans as a next possible site for projects to balance flood and levy-induced issues.
Projects extend beyond the state border, as do the regional offices in Oregon. Everything in the business is locally driven, Monaghan  said. Team members are trained in Rocklin before heading out to restore outside land.
“A lot of people talk about doing things, but we actually do. We buy land and we develop it.”
Orchard Creek, the most visible project, stands adjacent to the Thunder Valley Casino.
All projects are approved by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, engineering consultants and hydrology and biology field representatives.
In May, Wildlands showcased Liberty Island conservation banks and Fremont Salmon conservation banks of Yolo County at the National Ecosystem conference in 2012 held in Sacramento.
According to Monaghan, Wildlands is the largest mitigation and conservation banking group operating in the country.
In addition to its current Placer County ranch and pool restoration works, Wildlands has also contributed funding to build the Powerhouse Science Center in Sacramento. 
“At Wildlands, you get to see things up from the ground from beginning to end and from a raw piece of ground to restored habitat to see it protected in the future,” Monaghan said.