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Federal & State Conservation Programs
Regardless of whether you live in the city, along the river, or in the country, there may be a conservation assistance program that is right for you and your property. We'll help connect you to the professionals nearby that can assist in achieving your conservation goals.

The federal land conservation funding and technical assistance programs are national in scope and the majority are offered by the Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Department of Interior's Fish and Wildlife Service.

The state of California has a number of land conservation assistance programs designed to help you with either financial or technical assistance. Take a look through the programs to see if one fits your conservation goals. The following federal and state assistance programs are designed to promote habitat protection or restoration as well as other conservation activities on your land through grants, cost-share, technical assistance, or tax incentives.

Education Programs Education Programs
Adopt-A-Wetland Program
Agricultural Incubator Foundation
Anza-Borrego Foundation
Audubon California
Audubon Center at Debs Park
Batiquitos Lagoon Nature Center
California Agricultural Water Stewardship Initiative
California Invasive Plant Council
California Land Stewardship Institute
California Noxious Weed Information Program
California Oak Foundation
California Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education (SARE) Program
Celebrate Urban Birds
Community Water Center
Conservation Finance Network
Country Naturall Beef
Desert Discovery Center
Dovetail Partners Inc.
Earth Force, Inc.
Ecology Center
EElinked Networks
Environmental Nature Center
Equine Land Conservation Resource
Fire Science Online
Firewise Communities
Fish Friendly Farming Environmental Certification Program
Food Tank
Forestry Education and Careers
Grazing Management Course
Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes National Wildlife Refuge
Holistic Management International
Institute of Domestic Technology
Jughandle Creek Nature Center Native Plant Nursery
Marin Organic
McCall Outdoor Science School
Mississippi Wildlife Federation
National NEMO Network
National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service
North American Association for Environmental Education
Pacific Forest and Watershed Lands Stewardship Council
Pollinator Partnership
Project Learning Tree - National
Protect U.S. Community Invasive Species Network
Ranching For Profit School
Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden
Ready, Set, Go!
Rural Women's Project
Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education (SARE) Program
Sutter Buttes Regional Land Trust
Tamarisk Coalition
Texas Brigades
The Dunes Center
The National Agricultural Law Center
The Rabbit Haven
The Water Conservation Garden
U.S. Endowment for Forestry & Communities, Inc.
Urban Ecology Center
Ward Burton Wildlife Foundation
Water Education for Teachers in the City
Water Education Foundation
Watershed Information Center and Conservancy of Napa County
Wild Ones
Women, Food & Agriculture Network

State Funding / Technical Resources State Funding / Technical Resources
Biological Control Program
CalFire Resource Management
California Certified Farmers Market Program
California Department of Conservation
California Farmland Conservation Program (Williamson Act)
California Forest Improvement Program
California Forest Legacy Program
California Invasive Species Program
California Land Acquisition Program
California Landowner Incentive Program
California Noxious Weed Information Program
California Public Access Program
California Rangeland, Grazing Land and Grassland Protection Program
California Riparian Habitat Conservation Program
California State Water Resources Control Board
California Waterfowl Habitat Program
California Watershed Program
Center for Invasive Species Management
Center for Invasive Species Research
Central Valley Project Improvement Act (CVPIA) Habitat Restoration Program (HRP)
Coho Salmon Habitat Enhancement Leading to Preservation Act (Coho HELP Act)
Conservation Technology Information Center (CTIC)
Curly Top Virus Control Program - CDFA
Division of Marketing Services
Ecosystem Restoration on Agricultural Lands
Ecosystem Restoration Program
Farm and Ranch Solid Waste Cleanup and Abatement Grant
Farmland Mapping and Monitoring Program
Fisheries Restoration Grant Program
Forest Conservation Program
Habitat Enhancement and Restoration Program (General)
Hydrilla Program - CDFA
Inland Wetland Conservation Program
Keep Me Wild
Oak Woodlands Conservation Program
Partners For Fish and Wildlife Program Pacific SW Region
Permanent Wetland Easement Program
Prairie Grouse Partners
Private Lands Wildlife Habitat Enhancement and Management Program (PLM)
Quail and Upland Wildlife Federation
Shared Habitat Alliance for Recreational Enhancement (SHARE) Program
The Environmental Enhancement And Mitigation Program
Timberland Conservation Program
Tree Farm Certification

Conservation Districts
California Resource Conservation District Resource Conservation Districts (RCDs), once known as Soil Conservation Districts, are "special districts" of the state of California, set up under California law to be locally governed agencies with their own locally appointed, independent boards of directors. Although RCDs are established locally by the rules of a county's Local Agency Formation Committee (LAFCO), and they often have close ties to county government, they are not county government entities.

There are numerous types of special districts throughout the state set up to administer needs of local people for pest control, fire fighting, water distribution, and a host of other services. Some special districts are "enterprise" districts and deliver services or products, such as water, to local customers on a fee basis. Other districts, "non-enterprise" districts, deliver services, such as fire or police protection, to all local residents. These are usually supported on a taxation basis. RCDs have characteristics of both enterprise and non-enterprise districts.

Under Division 9 of the California Public Resources Code, RCDs are permitted to function to a certain degree as enterprise districts because they are empowered to charge reasonable fees for services rendered to individuals. At the same time, certain rules permit RCDs to draw on local taxes for revenues, though the passage of Proposition 13 in 1977 has made it much more difficult for RCDs to function in this way.

Though not governed directly by the state, special districts, among them RCDs, are subject to state law concerning elections, responsibilities, legal meetings, and much more. RCDs, however, are given their primary authority to implement local conservation measures by Division 9.

"The Nation that destroys its soil destroys itself" was the warning issued in 1937 by President Roosevelt when he signed legislation authorizing the creation of Soil and Water Conservation Districts. At that time, the nation was facing a monumental task of protecting our soil and water from the ravages of improper use that resulted in the "Dust Bowl" era. The Federal Government realized it could only solve the problem through strong local involvement and participation. Local people had to be a major part of the solution, which is why Soil and Water Conservation Districts were formed.

Today, our nation is facing another monumental task: Controlling "polluted runoff", otherwise known as Non-Point Source Pollution. As it was in the 1930’s, the solution is local involvement. Districts are subdivisions of state government run by locally elected and appointed volunteers who work to solve local natural resource problems. It is community involvement and the voluntary approach that makes Soil and Water Conservation Districts so effective. Working in a unique cooperative partnership with the United States Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, which provides strong technical expertise, and state and local partners, Soil and Water Conservation Districts reach out to all local stakeholders in the community to determine priorities and set a course of action to solve natural resource problems. Districts provide local conservation leadership, teach the value of natural resources, encourage conservation efforts and help plan and implement voluntary programs. Each District program is different and unique to the area that it serves, because the programs are developed by local people to solve local problems.

Benefits of District Programs

  • Help solve statewide problems by providing local solutions to many local natural resource problems (one size does not fit all)
  • Develop local leadership
  • Provide local hands-on training on natural resource issues
  • Teach the value of natural resources directly to local people
  • Provide voluntary technical assistance to landusers
  • Technical assistance and education help prevent and reduce polluted runoff (non-point source pollution)
  • Technical assistance helps protect drinking water supplies
  • Technical assistance helps landowners to better manage their forests
  • Programs bring in outside money (federal) that is spent locally
  • Technical assistance and education helps keep the rural character of Maine (maintain farm and open space)
California Cooperative Extension
UC Cooperative ExtensionUniversity of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE), ANR’s outreach arm, has farm, 4-H, and nutrition, family and consumer sciences advisors based in more than 50 county offices. In addition, Cooperative Extension specialists are headquartered at UC Berkeley, UC Davis, and UC Riverside, where they conduct research. These specialists provide statewide leadership to teams of advisors and AES faculty, and carry out outreach programs statewide and at the local level. As a land-grant institution, the Cooperative Extension mandate is tied to the welfare, development, and protection of California agriculture, natural resources, and people.

County farm advisors’ work is aimed at enhancing California agricultural productivity and competitiveness. Together with farmers, pest control advisors, and industry representatives, they identify current and emerging agricultural opportunities and problems. The advisors collaborate with campus-based Cooperative Extension specialists and AES scientists to research, adapt, and field-test agricultural improvements or solutions and promote the use of research findings.

The 4-H youth development program, with staff in each county office, provides meaningful, learn-by-doing educational activities to children in 4-H clubs and to children participating in school enrichment and after-school programs. The 4-H program includes traditional offerings – such as cooking, animal husbandry, and sewing – and an array of exciting new programs for today’s youth – including rocketry, computer science, and leadership.

The nutrition, family and consumer sciences advisors focus on nutrition, food safety, food preparation, food preservation, and finance management. Collaborative partnerships with government and private agencies extend the reach of UC advisors. Workshops, public meetings, newsletters, the mass media, and other communications tools bring information to the community.

Three regional offices administer UC Cooperative Extension: the North Coast and Mountain Region, the Central Valley Region, and the Central Coast and South Region. See the county office page for regional office and UCCE county locations and contact information.

Project Updates / News Project Updates / News
Updates and news from Private Landowner Network

USDA Announces Efforts to Expand Support for Small and Mid-Sized Farmers and Ranchers

The recent Census of Agriculture shows that there is tremendous growth potential for small and mid-sized producers in the American agricultural landscape. The USDA is taking a hard look at existing resources to ensure that they work for producers of all sizes, adjusting policies, strengthening programs and intensifing outreach to meet the needs of small and mid-sized producers.

USDA Unveils Key New Programs to Help Farmers Manage Risk

End of direct payments represents one of the most significant farm policy reforms in decades. USDA launches education efforts to help producers choose new program right for them. (Reposted from USDA Newsroom)

USDA Invests $68 Million in 540 Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Projects Nationwide

Funding includes loan guarantees and grants for solar energy to create jobs, promote energy independence and advance the use of renewable fuels.

Enrollment for New Dairy Farm Risk Management Program to Begin Sept. 2

USDA Launches New Web Tool to Help Producers Manage Unforeseen Economic Challenges

USDA provides $328 million for agricultural and wetland easements

Farmers Given an Early Termination Option for CRP Contracts

Early termination of CRP contracts will be allowed until Jan 30th, so long as certain criteria are met.

USDA Provides $328 Million to Conserve Wetlands and Farmland, Boost Economy

Farm Bill program will benefit wildfire and outdoor recreation activity in California Bay Delta Region, Mississippi, Red River Basins and others.

What To Do With All of the Poo?

Algae blooms, salmonella and E. Coli, groundwater contamination, and bad smells are just a few of the problems animal manure can cause. In small doses, it’s the stuff of life—the fertilizer plants need to grow. Mishandled, it’s an environmental disaster in waiting. Each year, farm animals in the United States produce over 335 million tons of manure. That’s roughly the weight of 1000 Empire State Buildings.

Dirty Underwear Shows How to Keep Pasture Healthy

There’s nothing like a pair of dirty drawers to drive home a point about soil health.

Farms Across U.S. Win Funds for New Products

Titan Farms, the largest peach operation on the East Coast, throws away 14 million pounds of fruit a year. Most of the peaches are edible, just not as perfect as fresh-market consumers demand. That waste equates to 275 tractor-trailer loads of peaches that go into the trash.

Ask FSA Andy about conservation plans: wetland and highly errodible lands

FSA Andy answers your questions about highly errodible land and wetlands.

Skyrocketing Fire Costs

New Report Shows Budget Impact of Rising Firefighting Costs

Other Forest Programs, Including Efforts to Help Prevent and Mitigate Fire Damage Have Shrunk; Secretary Vilsack Renews Call to Better Protect Public Forests from Wildfire Threats

USDA Announces $25 Million for Agricultural Entrepreneurs to Turn Commodities into Value-Added Products

    Funding Supports Local and Regional Food Systems, Beginning Farmers and Ranchers

USDA Seeks Applications for Grants to Increase Economic Opportunity and Improve the Quality of Life in Rural Areas

USDA Announces Selection of Advisory Committee Members to Help Guide Management of Public Forests and Grasslands

21 new members have been selected for the FACA.

Study: Strawberry Monitoring System Could Add $1.7M over 10 Years to Some Farms

A new UF/IFAS study shows growers can use the Strawberry Advisory System, a web-based tool that Peres helped design, to save up to $1.7 million over 10 years in fungicide use. Instead of spraying weekly, growers can use the system to tell them more optimal time to spray their strawberries.

USDA Announces Inclusion of Wood Products and Other Materials in BioPreferred Program

Agriculture Secretary Vilsack Announces New Global Open Data Partners and Measures to Enhance U.S.–Africa Trade at Africa Leaders Summit

U.S. Forest Service Will Award $14 Million for Working Forests

General Mills Issues Statement on Climate Change, Agriculture's Role

As weather volatility increases, General Mills recognizes the need to mitigate the climate change risks presented to humanity, our environment and our livelihoods. The urgency is clear: science-based evidence points to changes in climate that could permanently alter the atmosphere if action isn't taken in the near term.

USDA Announces Additional Food Safety Requirements, New Inspection System for Poultry Products

Revised modernization effort includes new preventative measures, re-focused inspection activities that will prevent thousands of illnesses annually and improved coordination on worker safety

Greenhouse Gas Report to Assist Producers Facing Climate Challenges

For the First Time, USDA Climate Hubs Get New Tools to Gauge Progress in Building Drought-Resistant Healthy Soil

USDA Implements Key Farm Bill Crop Insurance Provision

2014 Farm Bill Measure Strengthens and Expands Insurance Coverage Options for Farm Operations

Not So Easy Money: The Pros and Cons of Leasing Farm Land to Hunters

White House to Begin $10 Billion Farm Investment Fund

Wall Street is looking for ways to invest in America’s heartland, and the government is ready to play matchmaker.

Do you have your AD-1026 certification form on hand?

For farmers to be eligible for premium support on their federal crop insurance, a completed and signed AD-1026 form must be on file with the FSA.

Santa Barbara County gets its first-ever conservation bank

Located between Lompoc and Los Alamos, the newly established La Purisima Conservation Bank will serve as a conservation tool for local developers legally required to mitigate their projects. The 853-acre property includes 15 ponds—prime breeding habitat for the threatened California tiger salamander.

USDA conservation program helps ranchers preserve farm and wetlands

The new Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP) provides finanical and technical assistance for farmers and ranchers to protect farmland and wetlands.

Emergency water conservation regulations for timber harvesters enacted

The California Board of Forestry and Fire Protection adopted emergency regulations, effective June 19, to conserve water.

Delta farmers meet initial goal for voluntary metering of irrigation wells

As the June 30 deadline passed, the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality announced that the 5 percent goal for voluntary metering of irrigation wells supported by the Delta Sustainable Water Resource Task Force had been officially met.

United States and Korea Streamline Organic Trade

The US and Korea have entered an arrangement where organic processed products certified in either country can now be labeled as organic in the other.

USDA Makes $5 Million in Farm Bill Support for National Clean Plant Network Available

Farm Bill funds supports 19 projects under the National Clean Plant Network.

USDA Announces Loan Rates for 2014-Crop Peanuts

The CCC announced 2014 crop loan rates for select peanuts.

USDA Announces New Farm Bill Funds Available for Research to Fight Citrus Greening

$31.5 Million Being Allocated to Test Various Ways to Combat Disease Threatening U.S. Citrus Industry

Service Agency County Committee Nomination Period Begins June 15

Nominations for local FSA county committees begins June 15 and ends Dec 1.

Secretary Jewell Releases Landscape-Scale Mitigation Strategy to Encourage Dual Objectives of Smart Development and Conservation

Strategy seeks to provide clarity and consistency to more effectively avoid, minimize and compensate for impacts on public lands.

USDA Announces 2014 Cotton Loan Rate Differentials

Estimated ACRE Payments for 2013

This article by Gary Schnitkey from the Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics at the University of Illinois predicts ACRE payments for the 2013 crop year.

The USDA Released Agricultural Projections to 2022

The USDA has provided longrun projections for the farm sector for the next 10 years.

Leading Environmental Restoration and Mitigation Banking Firm Expands Into Conservation Banking: Lesser Prairie Chicken to Benefit

The partnership between Restoration Systems LLC and Common Ground Capital will provide the capital and strategic resources needed to enable CGC to complete execution of landscape-scale species conservation banks. These banks will compensate for the destruction of the Lesser Prairie Chicken habitat.

USDA Accepts Grant Applications for Conservation Innovation Efforts

Grant Program Links Public, Private Groups to Improve the Environment and Preserve Resources

Experts: 'Something Bigger is Going on' with Wildfires
Science is connecting hotter, bigger fires and a longer, more intense fire season with changes in the climate.

Feds Unveil 50-Year Plan for Wetlands Restoration
A 50-year plan for the restoration of San Francisco Bay and other coastal wetlands was released Thursday by federal wildlife officials who say it's the biggest effort to save tidal marshes outside the Florida Everglades.

Experts discuss ways to boost honeybee forage
At a first-of-its-kind meeting in Sacramento, beekeepers, farmers and representatives of public and private organizations gathered to discuss how to improve honeybee populations by allowing beekeepers access to more sources of bee forage.

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