- Unique cultural and/or natural areas
- Working landscapes that provide public resource or economic benefit
- Access to public lands and recreation opportunities
Pre-application can be found HERE.
Sierra Nevada Conservancy is now accepting Pre-Applications for the Strategic Lands Conservation Grant Program
Strategic Land Conservation Grant ProgramThe Strategic Land Conservation Grant Program supports fee title or easement acquisition projects that permanently protect high-benefit lands that are threatened with conversion, represent unique natural characteristics, or are critical for resilience to climate change. These projects must deliver clear, long-term public benefit and result in conditions that contribute to the health and resiliency of the watershed. Acquisitions may protect, restore, or create:
Pre-application can be found HERE.
USDA Offers Conservation Assistance to Landowners to Protect Wetlands, Agricultural Lands and Grasslands
WASHINGTON, March 27, 2019 –USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) plans to invest $450 million this year through the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP) to help private landowners, tribes, land trusts and other groups wanting to restore and protect critical wetlands and protect agricultural lands and grasslands.
“For over 25 years, NRCS has worked with landowners to protect their wetlands and agricultural lands,” NRCS Chief Matthew Lohr said. “Conservation easements are important tools for people who are trying to improve soil health, water and air quality and wildlife habitat on their land.”
ACEP provides assistance to landowners and eligible entities helping conserve, restore and protect wetlands and productive agricultural lands and grasslands. NRCS accepts ACEP applications year-round, but applications are ranked and funded by enrollment period, which have application deadlines set by the states. Many states have upcoming deadlines this spring.
Wetland Reserve Easements
Through ACEP Wetland Reserve Easements, NRCS helps landowners and tribes restore, enhance and protect wetland ecosystems. NRCS and the landowner work together to develop a plan for the restoration and maintenance of the easement.
“Seventy-five percent of the nation's wetlands are situated on private and tribal lands,” Lohr said. “Wetlands provide many benefits, including critical habitat for a wide array of wildlife species. They also store floodwaters, clean and recharge groundwater, sequester carbon, trap sediment and filter pollutants for clean water.”
Wetland conservation easements are either permanent, for 30 years or the maximum extent allowed by state law. Tribal landowners have the added option of enrolling in 30-year non-easement restoration contracts. Eligible lands include:
Through ACEP Agricultural Land Easements (ALE), NRCS provides funds to eligible entities to purchase easements on private working lands. This program helps keep working lands working, especially in areas experiencing development pressure.
Eligible cooperating entities include state or local agencies, non-profits and tribes. Landowners continue to own their property but voluntarily enter into a legal agreement with a cooperating entity to purchase an easement. The cooperating entity applies for matching funds from NRCS for the purchase of an easement from the landowner, permanently protecting its agricultural use and conservation values. Landowners do not apply directly to NRCS for funding under ALE.
Easements are permanent. Eligible lands include privately owned cropland, rangeland, grassland, pastureland and forestlands.
ACEP remains a major part of the recently passed 2018 Farm Bill and program implementation will continue during fiscal year 2019 with some minor changes.
Landowners and tribes interested in wetland reserve easements and partners interested in agricultural land easements should contact their local USDA service center.
State Issues Nearly $2 Million in Grants to Build Local Capacity to Protect and Restore State Forests
From the California Department of Conservation:
SACRAMENTO March 21, 2019 – Eight organizations have received $1.85 million in grants to hire watershed coordinators who will build local capacity to improve forest health, the Department of Conservation (DOC) announced today.
“Healthy forests are essential to reduce catastrophic wildfires, supply clean water, and help reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” DOC Director David Bunn said. “Watershed coordinators can play a major role in ensuring the health of our forests by promoting collaboration, integrating watershed management efforts, and supporting local activities that restore resilience to forest lands.”
Local projects will support the state’s Forest Carbon Plan and Executive Order B-52-18 and help achieve the California Global Warming Solutions Act’s goal of reducing California’s greenhouse gas emissions 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030.
Just as the state is divided into counties, it is also divided into watersheds: the geographic areas that channel rain and snow into creeks, streams, lakes, and rivers. Watershed coordinator positions will be funded for two years in project areas that encompass about 31,000 square miles within 26 counties – from Modoc County in the northeast, to coastal areas from southern Humboldt County to San Luis Obispo County, and to Madera, Tulare, and Fresno counties in the inland central part of the state.
The Forest Health Watershed Coordinator Grant Program is funded by the California Environmental License Plate Fund and administered by DOC. Areas identified by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection as being most at risk of catastrophic wildfires were given priority for the grants. The recipients, headquarters location, and amount of funding each received:
♦ Resource Conservation District of Butte County, Oroville, $217,564.
♦ Sierra Resource Conservation District, Auberry (Fresno County), $235,000
♦ South Yuba River Citizens League, Nevada City (Nevada County), $234, 995
♦ Humboldt County Resource Conservation District, Eureka, $231,900
♦ Tuolumne River Trust, San Francisco, $235,000
♦ Resource Conservation District of Santa Cruz County, Capitola, $234,959
♦ Pit Resource Conservation District, Bieber (Lassen County), $235,000
♦ Sierra Institute for Community and Environment, Taylorsville (Plumas County), $228,2645
“Each grant application received highlighted good local projects and collaboration,” said Keali’i Bright, director of DOC’s Division of Land Resource Protection. “Our ability to protect forested lands depends on strong local leadership, and this fantastic response underscores the need for continued support.”
The strategy of funding watershed coordinators to organize efforts at the local level has an outstanding track record. DOC provided grants from 2000-2015. A study of that program by the Sierra Institute for Community and Environment indicated that every dollar spent to hire a coordinator leveraged more than seven times that investment in the development of watershed management plans and restoration projects. The study also found that that forest health and watershed health are inextricably linked.
“The return on investment in watershed and forest health has been impressive, and California’s commitment to these issues is strong,” DOC Director Bunn said, noting that the Natural Resources Agency and DOC recently announced $20 million in block grants for local and regional projects to improve forest health and increase fire resiliency.
DOC’s Division of Land Resource Protection also manages programs that map land-use changes in California, permanently conserve important farmland, help reduce development pressure on agricultural and open-space land, and provide assistance to California’s Resource Conservation Districts. It also works with the Strategic Growth Council on the Sustainable Agricultural Lands Conservation Program and the Transformative Climate Communities Program, and with the High Speed Rail Authority on the Agricultural Land Mitigation Program.
Natural Resources Agency and Department of Conservation Announce Awards for the Regional Forest and Fire Capacity Program
From the March 12, 2019 Press Release:
SACRAMENTO – The California Natural Resources Agency and Department of Conservation
today announced awarding $20 million in block grants for local and regional projects to improve
forest health and increase fire resiliency.
Funded by Cap-and-Trade revenues through California Climate Investments, the Regional Forest
and Fire Capacity Program aims to help communities prioritize, develop, and implement
projects to strengthen fire resiliency, increase carbon sequestration, and facilitate greenhouse
The program is one element of the state’s efforts to improve forest health, protect
communities from wildfire risk and implement the California Forest Carbon Plan and Executive
Order B-52-18. Projects funded through the program will build on priority projects identified by
the Forest Management Task Force and the California Department of Forestry and Fire
Protection through Executive Order N-05-19.
“Getting this funding out the door will help local communities develop watershed-level projects
that can make a big difference in forest health and fire resiliency,” California Secretary for
Natural Resources Wade Crowfoot said. “With California facing unprecedented wildfire risk, we
need every tool available to put the state on a path toward long-term wildfire prevention and
Six regional block grants are being awarded on a noncompetitive basis to support project
implementation in the North Coast, Central Coast, Sierra Nevada, Klamath-Cascade, and
Southern California Regions. In addition, two grants are being awarded to assist in
implementing statewide efforts.
Regional block grant recipients will oversee distribution of funding and collaborative planning
with local entities including municipal and Tribal governments, nonprofits and community
organizations, fire safe councils, land trusts, resource conservation districts, residents, private
and public forest landowners and managers, businesses, and others to accomplish the
Block grant recipients were selected based on their history of implementing related projects,
demonstrated capacity to work across regional partners, and ability to serve as fiscal
administrators for the program.
Learn more about recipients HERE.