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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
Agricultural Incubator Foundation
Anza-Borrego Foundation
Audubon California
Audubon Center at Debs Park
Batiquitos Lagoon Nature Center
BatsLIVE
Calflora
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
Continuing Forestry Education Group
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
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
NatureBridge
North American Association for Environmental Education
Oregon Tilth
Pacific Forest and Watershed Lands Stewardship Council
Pollinator Partnership
PollinatorLIVE
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
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 Foundation
Watershed Information Center and Conservancy of Napa County
Wild Ones
WildPlaces
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 Grants to Community Partners to Create Jobs and Strengthen Small Rural Businesses

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 Announces Grants to Help Veterans and Minority Farmers Get Started in Agriculture

Partnerships Continue USDA Efforts Supporting New Farmers and Build Greater Diversity in American Agriculture

USDA Implements Key Farm Bill Crop Insurance Provision

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

Playing Politics with $10 Billion in Rural Programs

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

Vilsack Announces Conservation Details During Oregon Trip

Authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill, the Regional Conservation Partnership Program is expected to provide $1.2 billion in funding over the next five years.

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.

FSA Microloan Program

The low-interest FSA Microloan can help new and smaller producers.

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.

Farmers Need to Plan for Changes in New Farm Bill

Although signup is months away, agricultural landowners and producers need to begin planning for decisions they will have to make because of the new farm bill, according to LSU AgCenter economist Mike Salassi.

Farmers markets try to weather the drought

Farmers claim that due to drought, they are not able to sell their usual array of products this year at farmers markets.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack Proclaims August 3-9 National Farmers Market Week

Watershed Rehabilitation Funding to Repair Dams in 26 States

Natural Resources Chief Joins House Ag Chairman to Highlight Projects that will Protect Lives, Provide Jobs

Disaster Assistance for 2012 Frost or Freeze Fruit Crop Losses Announced

Enrollment begins July 22

Historic Farm Bill Funding Available to Organic Producers and Handlers

Funds to assist with Organic Certification Costs

How To Grow Your Own Meadow

Tired of your boring old lawn? Need a little pollination in your life? Why not try planting your own wildflower meadow, if not for yourself, then at least for the birds and the bees

Research Projects to Improve Plant Feedstocks for Bioenergy Production

Departments of Agriculture and Energy Announce Projects in 10 States

Field to Market Launches New Agricultural Supply Chain Program

Field to Market, the Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture, announces the launch of a new agricultural supply chain program for U.S. commodity crops.

Deadline Approaching for ELAP Sign-Up

Deadline to sign up for the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees, and Farm-Raised Fish is August 1!

New USDA grants to help specialty crop industry

USDA says the economic, environmental and social sustainability of specialty crop industries and the improved economies of the communities that depend on these industries are the ultimate beneficiaries of the NCPN program.

USDA designates Yuma County as natural disaster area

Due to persistent drought, Yuma County in Arizona has been declared a natural disaster area.

Film shows human cost of irrigation cuts to agriculture

An independent film by Juan Carlos Oseguera shows human cost of irrigation cuts to agriculture.

Initial farm bill decision aid now online for farmers

While the FSA's interpretation of the farm bill is still likely months from being finalized, the Agricultural and Food Policy Center at Texas A&M University has released the preliminary version of its farm bill decision aid tool for farmers.

CA Farmers See Threats Growing

Farmland conversions pose long-term worries.

Secretary Jewell Announces $43 Million to States for Parks, Outdoor Recreation through Land Water Conservation Fund

Jewelled announced that $43.38 million in state conservation funding is now available from the Land and Water Conservation Fund.

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.

USDA Provides 12-Week Progress Update on Disaster Assistance

106,000 Payment Helping Farmers in 40 States Recover from Losses; Producers reminded sign-up deadline approaching for ELAP

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.

USDA to Invest in Red River Basin Conservation Effort

Conservation Initiative to Minimize Flooding, Improve Water and Soil Quality, Help Waterfowl, Strengthen Agriculture and Outdoor Recreation Economies

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 Continues Farm Bill Implementation with Provisions to Help Farmers Manage Risk

Department Announces New Beginning Farmer Benefits, Other Changes to Crop Insurance that Provide Flexibility to Farmers

USDA Announces Loan Rates for 2014-Crop Peanuts

The CCC announced 2014 crop loan rates for select peanuts.

USDA Announces New Support for Beginning Farmers and Ranchers

Department Implementing New Farm Bill Programs, Unveiling New Centralized Online Resource to Support Next Generation of Farmers

USDA Announces Landmark Commitment to Improve Sage-Grouse Habitat

Nevada-California Ranchers to Benefit

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.

Are you EQIP-ed for Conservation?

EQIP provides financial and technical assitance to landowner to implement conservation practices on their land. The deadlines to enroll are June 20, July 18, and August 15.

USDA Announces Programs to Conserve Sensitive Land and Help Beginning Farmers

Programs that Allow Producers to Protect Land and Help New, Minority and Veteran Farmers Get their Start in Agriculture

NRCS Partnership Program Ushers in New Era of Conservation

The Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP), authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill, will streamline regional programs and award funds to conservation projects designed by local partners specifically for their region.

USDA Announces Support for Renewable Biomass Energy

Biomass Producers and Energy Facilities Soon Can Apply for Qualification in Renewed Biomass Crop Assistance Program

Yearly Survey Shows Better Results for Pollinators, but Losses Remain Significant

USDA Announces Fall Summit on Bee Nutrition and Forage; Launches "Bee Watch" Website to Broadcast Bee Activity and Increase Public Awareness of the Role of Pollinators in Crop Production
 

Cost of Fighting Wildfires in 2014 Projected to be Hundreds of Millions of Dollars over Amount Available

The US Forest Service estimates that it will be short about $470 million to fight wildfires this year.

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

Obama Administration Outlines New Strategy to Better Protect Communities, Businesses and Public and Private Lands from the Threat of Wildland Fire Ahead of 2014 Fire Season

The National Cohesive Wildlife Fire Management Strategy, developed by federal, state, tribal, and local community partners and public stakeholders, outlines new approaches to coordinate and integrate efforts to restore and maintain healthy landscapes, prepare communities for fire season, and better address the nation's wildland fire threats.

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.

USDA Announces the Extension of the Milk Income Loss Contract Program for 2014

The MILC program has been extended- protecting diary farmers enrolled in the program against income loss through Sept. 1 2014.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack Announces Increased Opportunity for Producers as part of New Farm Bill

Farm Loan Program Modifications Create Flexibility for New and Existing Farmers and Ranchers Alike

Agribusiness Friendliness Index

The Agribusiness Friendliness Index represents an attempt to quantify the various factors that influence the business climate for agribusinesses in each state.

Net Farm Income Forecast To Fall in 2014

The ERS report forecasts a decline in net farm income in 2014.

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.

Comparison of 2008 and 2014 Farm Bills

The Natural Resources Conservation Service has produced an easy to navigate, side-by-side comparision of 2008 and 2014 Farm Bill Programs.

USDA Announces New Grants to Help Communities Meet Water Challenges in Coming Years

$6 Million in Fiscal Year 2014, Up to $30 Million Over Next Five Years Available

USDA Announces 2014 Upland Cotton Marketing Assistance Loan Rate

Commodity Credit Corporation Executive Vice President Juan M. Garcia today announced the marketing assistance loan rate for 2014-crop base quality upland cotton.

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.

What Good is Dead Wood?
When you hear a barred owl calling “who cooks for you?” in your woods, chances are it’s calling from a nest cavity in the limb of a dying tree.

No time to back down on pollination BMPs
Almonds are referenced in virtually every news report about bees.

Bill to regulate fracking passes California state Assembly
A hotly contested bill that would impose California's first regulations on fracking and other oil production practices passed the state Assembly on Wednesday, despite opposition from environmentalists and oil companies.

Backyard Conservation: Bringing conservation from the countryside to your backyard
Just as they do on the farm, conservation practices on nonagricultural land can help increase food and shelter for birds and other wildlife, control soil erosion, reduce sediment in waterways, conserve water and improve water quality, inspire a stewardship ethic, and beautify the landscape.

NBTC Petitions FSA for Addition to CP33 Eligibility

Farm bill and sequestration impacting conservation programs
Farm and nutrition programs are often at the forefront of debate over a new farm bill. But conservation programs are also a vital part of the farm bill mix.

Federal court upholds California oyster farm closure
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A federal appeals court on Tuesday upheld a decision by former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar not to renew the lease of a popular oyster farm operating in the Point Reyes National Seashore in Northern California.

Texas Quail Group Supports NBCI Ag Policy Efforts with $75,000 Grant
The Dallas-based, non-profit Park Cities Quail (PCQ) organization has awarded the National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative (NBCI) $75,000 to support its efforts to educate federal agriculture policymakers in the nation’s capital regarding farm policy impacts on bobwhite quail and other wildlife species.

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