Agricultural Land Mitigation Program - High-Speed Rail Authority
The California Department of Conservation (DOC) is assisting the California High-Speed Rail Authority (Authority) meet its environmental commitments associated with agricultural land conversion through a mitigation services agreement. DOC’s California Farmland Conservancy Program (DOC-CFCP) will provide the technical expertise needed to establish permanent agricultural conservation easements on land of similar acreage, location, and quality to that impacted by the rail project's alignment and maintenance facilities.
The mitigation measure in both the Merced to Fresno and Fresno to Bakersfield final environmental documents (Ag-MM#1) commits the Authority to preserve Important Farmland at a ratio of no less than 1:1, for each acre impacted by the alignment and maintenance facilities. The 1:1 ratio is based on impacts to Prime Farmland, Farmland of Statewide Importance, Farmland of Local Importance, and Unique Farmland as mapped by the California Farmland Mapping and Monitoring Program (FMMP). The total acreage to be mitigated will also account for unusable remnant parcels and indirect impacts that will be calculated as land is purchased and reconveyed during the project's construction.
DOC-CFCP will work with local entities and willing sellers to secure easements to meet the agricultural mitigation requirements established in the environmental documents for the high-speed rail system, beginning in the San Joaquin Valley. DOC-CFCP statute (Public Resources Code Section 10212) defines what entities are considered eligible to apply for and hold agricultural conservation easements:
"Applicant" means a city, county, nonprofit organization, resource conservation district, or a regional park or open-space district or regional park or open-space authority that has the conservation of farmland among its stated purposes, as prescribed by statute, or as expressed in the entity's locally adopted policies, that applies for a grant authorized pursuant to this division.
While many aspects of this effort are anticipated to be similar to DOC-CFCP's existing processes, the fact that this will be a mitigation program in partnership with the Authority will necessitate some procedural variations. The Request for Grant Applications (RFGA), application form, and support materials are now available.
Background information about the Agricultural Land Mitigation Services Agreement and the DOC-CFCP is also available:
Please check back for additional information on the mitigation program in the months ahead, and contact us at email@example.com if you have additional questions or comments.
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