Please continue to read the research article in full HERE.
by A.T. O’Geen, Matthew B.B. Saal, Helen Dahlke, David Doll, Rachel Elkins, Allan Fulton, Graham Fogg, Thomas Harter, Jan W. Hopmans, Chuck Ingels, Franz Niederholzer, Samuel Sandoval Solis, Paul Verdegaal and Mike Walkinshaw
Groundwater pumping chronically exceeds natural recharge in many agricultural regions in California. A common method of recharging groundwater — when surface water is available — is to deliberately flood an open area, allowing water to percolate into an aquifer. However, open land suitable for this type of recharge is scarce. Flooding agricultural land during fallow or dormant periods has the potential to increase groundwater recharge substantially, but this approach has not been well studied. Using data on soils, topography and crop type, we developed a spatially explicit index of the suitability for groundwater recharge of land in all agricultural regions in California. We identified 3.6 million acres of agricultural land statewide as having Excellent or Good potential for groundwater recharge. The index provides preliminary guidance about the locations where groundwater recharge on agricultural land is likely to be feasible. A variety of institutional, infrastructure and other issues must also be addressed before this practice can be implemented widely.
Please continue to read the research article in full HERE.
The Migratory Bird Conservation Partnership (MBCP) is seeking proposals from qualified applicants to prepare water budget information for Central Valley managed wetlands that can be used in the
development of Groundwater Sustainability Plans (GSPs).
Please keep proposals between 2-4 pages, not including attachments. Proposals should describe your approach to each of the tasks listed below, your rationale, and any recommended changes or additions. A maximum of 10 additional pages of attachments should include a description of the roles and qualifications of key staff, a budget, and relevant work examples. For questions or clarifications, please email both email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org no later than June 25, 2018.
Proposals should be submitted electronically by June 29, 2018 to:
Dr. Kristen Dybala, Senior Research Ecologist
Point Blue Conservation Science
Statement of Purpose
Produce water budget information for managed wetlands to facilitate representation of wetland water needs in the GSP development processes
More information can be found HERE.
As general manager of a water district that serves about 27,000 agricultural acres in the southern San Joaquin Valley, Eric Averett knows the solutions to the region’s water shortages are fairly straight-forward.
He speaks of two knobs that valley water users can turn. One controls supply, and the other demand.
In past years, Averett says he figuratively had his hand slapped by his Rosedale-Rio Bravo Water Storage District board whenever he tried to adjust the knob that affected the supply of water to growers. But as droughts, surface water cutbacks and groundwater overdrafts confront districts throughout the Central Valley, all solutions are now on the table.
“Throughout the valley, we’re going to end up turning both knobs in the future,” Averett said during a recent panel discussion on the valley’s water future.
In short, experts believe the only way to bring the valley’s overburdened water supplies into balance will be to increase supply, mainly by making the most of available water, and reduce demand. And part of reducing demand may well be the voluntary fallowing of agricultural land.
“For some of our hardest-hit areas, the idling of agricultural land is going to be a reality,” says Abbey Hart, the agriculture project director for The Nature Conservancy. She adds that growers may see an economic benefit for converting land into wildlife habitat, but the process will have to be well planned. A checkerboard approach to creating habitat won’t work, she says.
“A lot of these species won’t be able to use tiny patches of land,” Hart told about 200 growers and others at the water forum in early May, sponsored by the Almond Board of California.
Please continue to read in full HERE.
The CA Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Proposition 1 Watershed Restoration Grant Program Solicitation Notice has been released. The due date for the application is June 13, 2018.
The purpose of the Watershed Restoration Grant Program is to build resiliency and address immediate issues from the aftermath of recent wildfires, as well as address long-standing environmental challenges, by supporting water quality, river, and watershed protection and restoration projects of statewide importance outside the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. Funds will support planning or implementation projects that address at least one of the following priorities:
Agriculture could pull carbon out of the air and into the soil — but it would mean a whole new way of thinking about how to tend the land.
By Moises Velasquez-Manoff for the New York Times | April 18, 2018
hen John Wick and his wife, Peggy Rathmann, bought their ranch in Marin County, Calif., in 1998, it was mostly because they needed more space. Rathmann is an acclaimed children’s book author — “Officer Buckle and Gloria” won a Caldecott Medal in 1996 — and their apartment in San Francisco had become cluttered with her illustrations. They picked out the 540-acre ranch in Nicasio mostly for its large barn, which they planned to remake into a spacious studio. Wick, a former construction foreman — they met when he oversaw a renovation of her bathroom — was eager to tackle the project. He knew the area well, having grown up one town away, in Woodacre, where he had what he describes as a “free-range” childhood: little supervision and lots of biking, rope-swinging and playing in the area’s fields and glens.
The couple quickly settled into their bucolic new surroundings. Wick began fixing leaks in the barn. Rathmann loved watching the many animals, including ravens, deer and the occasional gopher, from the large porch. She even trained the resident towhees, small brown birds, to eat seed from her hand. So smitten were they with the wildlife, in fact, that they decided to return their ranch to a wilder state. For nearly a century, this had been dairy country, and the rounded, coastal hills were terraced from decades of grazing. Wick and Rathmann would often come home and find, to their annoyance, cows standing on their porch. The first step they took toward what they imagined would be a more pristine state was to revoke the access enjoyed by the rancher whose cows wandered their property.
Within months of the herd’s departure, the landscape began to change. Brush encroached on meadow. Dried-out, uneaten grass hindered new growth. A mysterious disease struck their oak trees. The land seemed to be losing its vitality. “Our vision of wilderness was failing,” Wick told me recently. “Our naïve idea was not working out so well.”
Wick was especially bothered by the advance of a prickly, yellow-flowered invasive weed called the woolly distaff thistle. He pulled it, mowed it, doused it with herbicides. But the distaff kept moving into what had been pasture. He thought about renting goats to eat the weeds and brush, but they were too expensive. He even considered introducing wild elk, but the bureaucratic hurdles seemed too onerous.
Then Wick and Rathmann met a rangeland ecologist named Jeff Creque. Instead of fighting against what you dislike, Creque suggested, focus on cultivating what you want. Squeeze out weeds by fostering conditions that favor grasses. Creque, who spent 25 years as an organic-pear-and-apple farmer in Northern California before earning a Ph.D. in rangeland ecology, also recommended that they bring back the cows. Grasslands and grazing animals, he pointed out, had evolved together. Unlike trees, grasses don’t shed their leaves at the end of the growing season; they depend on animals for defoliation and the recycling of nutrients. The manure and urine from grazing animals fuels healthy growth. If done right, Creque said, grazing could be restorative.
Please continue to read in full at The New York Times.
The Department of Water Resources in partnership with The Nature Conservancy have recently launched the Groundwater Resource Hub, the go-to place for information on groundwater dependent ecosystems. There are a number of tools on the site, including the database of indicators of groundwater dependent ecosystems (GDEs) and a guidance document to guide groundwater sustainability agencies (GSAs) to address GDEs in their plans.
Access to the iGDE database can be found HERE.
by Ellen Hanak, Jelena Jezdimirovic, Sarge Green, Alvar Escriva-Bou
SummaryThe San Joaquin Valley—which has the biggest imbalance between groundwater pumping and replenishment in the state—is ground zero for implementing the 2014 Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA). Expanding groundwater recharge could help local water users bring their basins into balance and make a dent in the long-term deficit of nearly 2 million acre-feet per year. The experience with recharge in 2017―the first wet year since the enactment of SGMA―offers valuable insights in how to expand recharge. A survey of valley water districts’ current recharge efforts revealed strong interest in the practice, and a number of constraints. The following actions are needed to better capitalize on future opportunities:
You can read the report in full HERE.
Identification of potentially suitable habitat for strategic land retirement and restoration in the San Joaquin Desert
via The Nature Conservancy:
California's Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) established a framework for sustainable, local groundwater management. SGMA requires groundwater-dependent regions to halt overdraft and bring basins into balanced levels of pumping and recharge. As a result, agricultural land retirement is on the rise in the San Joaquin Valley, California’s largest agricultural region and home to the state's highest concentration of threatened and endangered species. In this assessment, The Nature Conservancy introduces the concept of strategic land retirement and restoration, an approach which seeks to help recover San Joaquin Valley threatened and endangered species by restoring agricultural land that is suitable as habitat and under threat of retirement. The authors identify 2.5 million acres of current agricultural lands that have high potential for restoration, 14% of which was fallowed at least once during the most recent drought.
DAVIS, Calif., December 7, 2017 - USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is currently accepting applications for the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP). ACEP offers two easement options, Agricultural Land Easements (ALE) and Wetland Reserve Easements (WRE). A total of $4.8 million has initially been made available for ACEP applicants throughout California.
“Easements are important tools for landowners who are trying to conserve their land.” said Ray Dotson, acting NRCS state conservationist in California. "ACEP provides a means to keep working land in production, preserve open space, and greatly benefit our state’s natural resources and wildlife."
Under the ALE component, NRCS may contribute up to 50 percent of the fair market value of the agricultural land easement to protect farming and ranching on privately owned cropland, rangeland, nonindustrial forestland, pastureland, and grasslands of special environmental significance. Approved agricultural easements prevent productive working lands from being converted to non-agricultural uses and maximize protection of land devoted to food production. Landowners are encouraged to work with a local or regional eligible entity to apply for the program, such as a land trust or non-governmental organization with an established record of conserving farms and ranches.
WRE compensates farmers, ranchers and other private landowners for land placed in wetland conservation easements, and shares the cost of restoring degraded wetlands. Eligible landowners can choose to enroll in a permanent or 30-year easement. Tribal landowners also have the option of enrolling in a 30-year contract. WRE also includes a Grazing Reserve Rights option which allows participants with an approved wetland and grazing management plan to enroll grazed land. The grazing rights option is available in three geographic areas: coastal pastures and wetlands of the north coast, California vernal pools, and intermountain wetlands of eastern California. Interested landowners should contact their local NRCS field office to apply for the program.
ACEP applications may be submitted at any time to NRCS. However, applications must be submitted by January 19, 2018, to be considered for fiscal year 2018 ACEP funding.
As with all NRCS easements, the landowner retains the title to the land, and the right to control access and recreational use. The land remains on the tax rolls. Learn more about ACEP by visiting www.ca.nrcs.usda.gov/programs.