Placer, William Jessup to partner on land conservation research

Published on September 19, 2017

William Jessup University students and Placer County’s plan for conserving approximately 47,000 acres of open space will both benefit from a research collaboration agreement approved today by the county Board of Supervisors.

Under the agreement, Jessup students will gain practical field and research experience while helping the county collect and analyze data needed to assess and plan land and habitat conservation projects as part of the Placer County Conservation Program. The five-year agreement comes at no cost to the county, and was signed Aug. 23 by William Jessup University Provost Dr. Dennis Jameson.

"We have a litany of scientific research that will be required,” said Gregg McKenzie, administrator of the Placer County Conservation Program. “So, collaborating with William Jessup will be very beneficial for us, as well as for the students, providing research opportunities and internships to help move the PCCP forward to fruition."

The Placer County Conservation Program is a progressive and proactive strategy for identifying where development should preferably occur in western Placer County while preserving important natural and agricultural resources. If approved, it would streamline federal, state and local permitting at the local level, while ensuring that land conservation required as mitigation under those permits would be effective and located in Placer County. A draft of the program and its environmental impact report are expected to be available for public review later this year.

To implement the program, Placer County will routinely monitor the health of protected species populations, map wetlands, conduct habitat surveys and sample soil, air and water. Each will offer research opportunities for Jessup students and faculty.

"I really see this as an opportunity to plug my students into the local conservation efforts, said Dr. Michael McGrann, chair of the Environmental Sciences Department at William Jessup University. “This is right in our backyard, and we very much feel connected to the county. This is a way to plug right into the conservation needs here."

All research conducted under the agreement will be publicly available, and the agreement could serve as a template for agreements with other colleges and universities. Though much of the envisioned research would focus on biological resources or ecology, the agreement could also support related research by other university focuses like business and public policy.