Sunday, April 22, 2007

River Preserve

Nice story on the preserve and the people who work there.

Boy, some 'backyard'
Marcos Cabrera is only 9, but he helps his dad tend the vast Cosumnes River Preserve and dazzles visitors with insights as a guide.
By David Watts Barton - Bee Staff Writer
Published 12:00 am PDT Sunday, April 22, 2007

Marcos Cabrera bounds up an embankment of perennial pepperweed, pulls off his work gloves and shakes a visitor's hand.

"This is my big backyard," he says proudly.

And he's right: Marcos, 9, lives in a house with his father, Alex Cabrera, the site coordinator in charge of maintenance and restoration at the 46,000- acre Cosumnes River Preserve, 28 miles south of Sacramento.

Marcos' "backyard" is a dazzling blend of riparian habitats, backwater sloughs, Valley oak forests, vernal pools, organic rice farming and the Cosumnes River itself.

Half an hour from downtown Sacramento, it is home to dozens of bird species, river otters, beavers, minks, muskrats, deer and even mountain lions, as well as to Marcos and his father.

And while Marcos is a fourth-grader at nearby Franklin Elementary in Elk Grove, one gets the sense that the preserve isn't just his home -- it's his school, too.

"He's been out here pulling weeds and learning about the place since he was 3