California town spends $388,125 to protect giant garter snake

MERCED, Cliaf. — Come Friday, the city of Merced will cut a check for $388,125 to pay for a nature preserve in Yolo County.

All because of a snake -- a snake that hasn't been seen near the city for nearly 100 years, said Mike Wegley, the city's deputy public works director.

The snake in question, Thamnophis gigas, is more commonly known as the giant garter snake.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said this endangered species is quickly losing out to development and invasive species, among other threats in the San Joaquin Valley.

This is where Merced comes in.

The environmental studies of Merced's wastewater treatment plant expansion showed the project could affect giant garter snake habitat in a waterway skirting the project site south of town.

Hartley Slough, a marshy waterway thick with brush and trees that passes along the northwest side of the site, has been identified as a potential home of the snake.

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