California NRCS Executive Summary of Programs
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NRCS CALIFORNIA 2006 Executive Summary of Programs Conservation Innovation Grants Farm & Ranchlands Protection Program The Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) program was offered The Farm and Ranchlands Protection Program (FRPP) is a in California for the ﬁrst time during FY 2005. Over 20 applications voluntary easement program that helps farmers and ranchers were received to address the program’s primary purpose of keep their land in agriculture. NRCS partners with the California developing innovative techniques and methods to address natural Department of Conservation – Farmland Conservancy Program, resource conservation issues. Three grants for a total amount of local governments, and non-proﬁt land trust organizations to $179,000 were awarded to study innovative methods to improving acquire agricultural conservation easements from landowners. air quality and sustainable crop production. The FRPP program in California has leveraged over $9 million with $22 million of conservation partner funds to protect over Conservation Reserve Program 6,000 acres of prime farmland. The FRPP program with our NRCS provided technical assistance for a general signup partners have earmarked over $48 million to protect 22,000 in FY 2005. California has a total of 520 contracts in the acres of agricultural lands with a conservation easement in Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) covering 147,583 acres. the next two years. Since the program was authorized in 1996, The Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) and California has received $22 million to protect over 28,000 acres continuous signup CRP (CCRP) continues to provide upland of agriculture lands. wildlife/riparian habitat to the upper Sacramento Valley and other parts of the state, with 110 contracts totaling 9,427 acres. In addition, there are approximately 30,000 acres of expired Water The Grassland Reserve Program (GRP) allows private landowners Bank contracts that have rolled over into Marginal Pastureland to enter into rental or conservation easement agreements with CRP that provide brood water and upland nesting habitat for NRCS with the purpose of conserving and enhancing grassland resident waterfowl and shorebirds. resources. While livestock grazing is permitted under a Prescribed Grazing Plan, no signiﬁcant disturbance of the soil may occur Emergency Watershed Protection Program on enrolled acreages. The primary beneﬁt of the program is The Emergency Watershed Protection (EWP) program provides the reduction in conversion of quality grasslands to uses such technical and ﬁnancial assistance for watersheds ravaged by as crops or urban development. In FY 2005, California enrolled natural disasters. Approximately $150 million in EWP funding 3,865 acres in 10 and 20-year rental agreements, and 1,856 acres was made available to NRCS in 2004 to address both the ﬁre in permanent conservation easements; one of these permanent response work in Southern California as well as assisting San easements is enrolled for the conservation of sage grouse habitat Bernardino, Riverside and San Diego Counties impacted by with a total of 1,662 acres. This was funded through the state’s the Tree Mortality Emergency. Approximately $120 million of federal allocation of about $3.2 million, $500,000 of which were the $150 million in EWP funding was designated for dead tree contributed through the Sage Grouse Conservation Initiative. removal and erosion control in the impacted areas. In 2005, NRCS Total program enrollment acreages for all years is 38,950. made major strides to protect mountain communities in tree Applications were competitively ranked using statewide criteria mortality areas from the threat of devastating wildﬁre. Working speciﬁc to the program and with input from the State Technical with sponsors and partner agencies, dead trees and fuel were Advisory Committee. removed on over 25,000 acres in priority areas. Approximately 70 percent of the $120 million has been obligated for competed Plant Materials and planned projects. NRCS is working with our sponsors and The Lockeford Plant Materials Center (PMC) serves most of partner agencies to complete total obligation of the remaining California. Twenty-nine plants have been released for commercial funds and have all remaining work under contract by the end seed production to solve soil and water conservation problems. of 2006. Southern California experienced wildﬁres in November In FY 2005, PMC and ﬁeld ofﬁce staff worked together on seven 2005. Three EWP projects for $350,000 have been approved and studies, including rangeland seeding, soil sequestration of carbon are waiting for funds to be implemented. Northern California and cover crop conservation ﬁeld trials. Many landowners helped experienced signiﬁcant ﬂoods in December 2005. Four exigency with site preparation, plot layout, fencing, planting and treatment projects for about $400,000 were funded and are complete or applications. Eighty thousand native plants were provided to in progress. Additional non-exigency projects costing up to Resource Conservation Districts and others for restoration work. $750,000 are on a funding wait list. The PMC completed the growth and ground cover evaluations of 36 introduced and native cover crop varieties, with the data Enviromental Quality Incentives Program being used in RUSLE2 (Revised Universal Soil Loss Equation). The Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) is one of Moreover, RUSLE2 will be used extensively in the Conservation the most popular and effective programs that NRCS offers. Guided Security Program (CSP). The PMC assisted in evaluating a by working groups, stakeholders and a locally led process, funds Conservation Field Trail (CFT) in the Elkhorn Slough watershed are allocated to address signiﬁcant natural resource concerns to introduce agricultural producers to various grasses. In Tule throughout the state. During FY 2005, approximately 1,700 EQIP Lake, the PMC completed an evaluation of 120 grass and contracts covering 500,000 acres were funded for approximately legume plots used to determine the best plant materials to use in $48 million. This includes nearly $4 million in special EQIP conservation practices. The PMC worked extensively with other funding for Klamath Basin to conserve surface and groundwater; agencies such as the Bureau of Reclamation, U.S. Fish and Wildlife $5.5 million to address air quality concerns; and $9 million to Service and the National Park Service in developing native plants address water conservation concerns throughout California. for restoration sites. The Center is also being used to demonstrate Information about the EQIP program can be found on the Web various conservation practices and is providing plant materials at www.ca.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/eqip/. training to NRCS, RCD and partner staff. NRCS CALIFORNIA 2006 ~ EXECUTIVE SUMMARY OF PROGRAMS Private Grazing Lands Assistance Pierson Reach Stream restoration project. This project is part Grazing land technical assistance is very important in California of a major stream restoration project for the Central Sonoma where beef is the fourth largest agricultural commodity. Watershed project completed in the 1970s. Environmental pressures on private grazing lands and federal grazing allotments have increased the intensity of management on Soil Surveys private grazing lands. The Grazing Land Conservation Initiative California, with its extensive natural diversity, contains more than (GLCI) and California Grazing Lands Coalition (CGLC) are 1,940 soil series and greater than 12,700 soil map units dispersed voluntary efforts to enhance privately owned grazing land. GLCI across 18 different MLRAs. Published soil survey information funds provide increased technical assistance to ranchers and help exists for about 78 percent of the state’s 101 million acres, which support development of local grazing lands coalitions, conferences are made up of about half private and half federally-owned land. and workshops, and demonstration projects. Demonstration About 91 percent of the private land is mapped and the remaining projects included the use of NutBal tool statewide for analyzing large blocks will be completed over the next ﬁve years. About 17 animal nutritional needs and developing grazing prescriptions, million acres of federal land, mainly BLM and NPS ownership, and integrated vegetation management trials in San Luis Obispo remain to be mapped. These agencies have been providing about County. Hosted activities included a Bay-Delta area symposium $700,000 per year toward the work in these areas. Roughly 3 that focused on conservation of public and private grazing lands. million acres of private land are also intricately interspersed with Five major areas of current GLCI emphasis are: 1) Facilitation of this federal land. Future needs include extensive maintenance/ Local Grazing Lands Coalitions; 2) Development of Ecological update work where alteration of land through activities such as Site Descriptions; 3) Compliance with State Rangeland Water land-leveling, deep ripping, and reclamation have changed the Quality requirements; 4) Prevention, control and eradication of soils and/or where intensity of modern land use requires more noxious weeds, and 5) Implementation of Farm Bill programs on detail. MLRA Soil Survey Ofﬁces are currently being implemented grazing lands. Landowners planned 398,095 acres where grazing in six California locations to serve as hubs for conducting the lands were the primary resource concern, and applied grazing remaining initial and future maintenance work. The Paciﬁc lands practices on 429,746 acres in FY 05. The prescribed grazing Southwest MLRA Soil Survey Region Ofﬁce (MO2), located in practice was applied on 230,339 acres. Davis, is working to provide soil survey technical leadership and quality assurance to most of California, southern Nevada, Hawaii, Resource Conservation & Development the Paciﬁc Basin, and portions of Arizona, Utah, and Oregon. Resource Conservation and Development (RC&D) is a unique program that helps people protect their natural resources while Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program improving an area’s economy, environment and living standards. The FY 2006 allocation for California of $865,000 is a 50 percent California currently has 12 authorized areas statewide. In FY reduction from the $1.7 million in Wildlife Habitat Incentives 2005, over 100 RC&D projects were completed, which focused Program (WHIP) funds in FY 2004. Despite the signiﬁcant on land conservation, water management, resource awareness, reduction, we expect to fund projects that provide habitat for environmental concerns, and community development. The RCD ﬁsh and wildlife species with declining populations. Several program in California has assisted with over 38 new businesses applicants are interested in restoring in-stream, riparian, and being established and 1,300 new jobs created. In addition, over upland habitat for Coho and Chinook salmon and Steelhead 1,700 acres of wildlife habitat were protected. California has three Trout. Other applicants want cost-sharing to remove fish RC&D area applications pending approval: The California Delta, barriers, supply in-stream structure, remove exotic riparian the San Francisco Bay, and the San Joaquin areas. The California plant species, or renovate access roads to drastically reduce State Association of RC&D Councils has expanded to 15 RC&D sediment contribution to streams. Many other applicants will Councils, each deﬁning its own local goals and objectives. focus their projects on restoration of riparian corridors that bisect crop, range, brush, and forestland. As in past years, we Small Watershed Program expect to leverage these funds with partnership contributions The Watershed Protection and Flood Prevention Act of 1954 that in past years have nearly matched NRCS funds for WHIP (Small Watershed Program) gives NRCS broad authority to assist projects on private lands. local sponsors in solving small watershed resource problems. Currently, California has about 12 active watershed projects in Wetlands Reserve Program various stages of implementation. The projects provide beneﬁts The Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP) contributed signiﬁcantly for ﬂood prevention, soil erosion, ﬁsh and wildlife enhancement, to wildlife habitat and wetland restoration activities in California and related purposes. California also provides technical assistance throughout FY 2005. In addition to enrolling 4,745 more acres in for watershed surveys and planning. Some FY 05 project the program, NRCS kept pace with the habitat objectives of the highlights include: Construction of the last phase of the Beardsley program by completing restoration on more than 9,000 acres of watershed project was nearly completed with 90 percent of the previously recorded conservation easements. Of the total acres Los Angeles Ave. Unit II project complete. Remaining work enrolled in 2005, 4,221 acres were permanent easements, 294 will be completed in early 2006. This project will ﬁnish the acres were in 30-year easements, and the remaining 230 acres Beardsley Watershed Project approximately 40 years after the were enrolled as a 10-year restoration contract. This brings the initial construction began. Construction of the last element of total enrollment in the state to 94,092 acres during 14 years of the Carpenteria Watershed project was ﬁnished in 2006 at a total program delivery. WRP in California targets marginal cropland project cost of about $2.6 million. The work included a ﬂood where natural ﬂooding and saturated conditions make farming control wall and a marsh enhancement component. This project difﬁcult. In addition to restoring wetlands, habitat objectives of is the outlet to the Carpinteria Watershed project that has been WRP include the restoration of native upland and riparian plant held up from implementation by environmental issues for many communities and the interconnectivity of fragmented habitat on years. Construction started for the $1.9 million Santa Rosa Creek agricultural landscapes.