District secures $1,750,000 for agricultural protection!

December 14, 2017

Posted in: News Articles

District awarded $1,750,000 for agricultural protection!

The District is thrilled to have received two grants from the Sustainable Agricultural Lands Conservation (SALC) Program – a component of the Strategic Growth Council’s Affordable Housing & Sustainable Communities Program, which supports the State’s greenhouse gas emission goals by investing in the protection of agricultural lands. The SALC Program, which is administered by the California Department of Conservation, is funded with AB 32 (California Global Warming Solutions Act) auction revenues. The Program protects agricultural land via permanent conservation easements to avoid increases in greenhouse gas emissions associated with conversion of these lands. Protecting critical agricultural lands from conversion to urban or rural residential development also promotes smart growth, keeps land in open space, and supports a healthy agricultural economy.

One grant of $750,000, awarded in 2016, will go toward acquiring a conservation easement over Mattos Dairy, a 703-acre dairy that sells organic milk to St. Benoit Creamery, among others. Located southwest of Cotati along Mecham and Pepper Roads, the dairy is also in the headwaters of Stemple Creek. Just two miles from the urban edge of Cotati, this productive dairy is at risk of subdivision and suburban development.

A second grant of $1,000,000, awarded in 2017 during the Program’s third cycle, will help to protect the 403-acre Joseph Camozzi Dairy, an organic dairy also on Mecham Road and within the headwaters of Washoe Creek, which runs to the Laguna de Santa Rosa. The Camozzi Dairy is less than two miles from the city of Cotati and runs the risk of being developed as the population grows.

Both properties are within the District’s Coastal Agriculture priority conservation area, and the proposed conservation easements will ensure that carbon sequestration continues in the grassland soils and will restrict conversion of the land to urban or suburban uses that would increase greenhouse gas emissions. The District regularly seeks out grant opportunities to leverage our local taxpayers’ dollars and is proud to have been awarded two substantial sums from this unique funding source to help preserve critical agricultural lands in Sonoma County.

The Sustainable Agricultural Lands Conservation Program is part of California Climate Investments, a statewide program that puts billions of Cap-and-Trade dollars to work reducing greenhouse gas emissions, strengthening the economy, and improving public health and the environment—particularly in disadvantaged communities. The Cap-and-Trade program also creates a financial incentive for industries to invest in clean technologies and develop innovative ways to reduce pollution. California Climate Investments projects include affordable housing, renewable energy, public transportation, zero-emission vehicles, environmental restoration, more sustainable agriculture, recycling, and much more. At least 35 percent of these investments are located within and benefit residents of disadvantaged communities, low-income communities, and low-income households across California. For more information, visit the California Climate Investments website at: www.caclimateinvestments.ca.gov.