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California Water Bond Funded FMMP Improvements

The voters of California passed the Proposition 13 bond initiative in March 2000 entitled the Safe Drinking Water, Clean Water, Watershed Protection, and Flood Protection Act (Water Bond). A small component of this bond provided funding to FMMP to assist local land-use planning efforts by increasing its mapping capabilities and integrating FMMP data with other information. Through this effort, planners can work toward conserving valuable agricultural and watershed lands while reducing the risks of urban flooding or other natural resource hazards.  The funding supported completion of the following items:

Accelerating production of Important Farmland maps
  • The FMMP survey increased from 44 to 49 million acres as a result of additional bond funding, and now covers 98% of privately owned land in the state.  This included expansions into western Fresno County, western and northern Stanislaus County, Mendocino County, and most recently the Carrizo Plain area of San Luis Obispo County.   Each county in the survey is updated every two years to track land use conversion over time.

  • The project funded an improved workflow, resulting in more detailed soil data and better tracking of lands being flagged for future change.  Soil units as small as one acre are now available in the digital soil data from USDA; historically this had been 10 acres.

  • PDF versions of Important Farmland Maps are now available, at our ftp site.  These full size maps, formatted for 36" plotters, enable users to view and enlarge areas of interest and make custom images for their studies. 

Increasing coverage and availability of NRCS soil surveys
  • Proposition 13 funds provided additional staff to accelerate completion of surveys in Butte and Kern counties.  Digital soil data for both locations is now available.  Funding also contributed to soil surveys in progress in Humboldt County. 

  • Web-based soil surveys for Colusa, Western Tulare, and Yolo counties were generated; and print publication of western Stanislaus County was funded. 

Increasing data collection capabilities
  • Permanent easements have become a popular tool in the conservation of agricultural land resources.  FMMP initiated mapping of permanent agricultural easements with a combination of Proposition 13 and CALFED funds.  This effort was later taken over by the California Farmland Conservancy Program (also within the Department of Conservation), under a different funding source. 

  • Fragmentation of agricultural lands due to expansion of low-density rural estates and other uses has created an agricultural viability issue.  FMMP began mapping the extent of rural residential, semi-agricultural, confined animal agriculture, and additional uses with Proposition 13 funds.  Thusfar the project is limited to eight San Joaquin Valley counties and Mendocino County; the scope will be expanded to other regions of the state as funding allows. 

  • FMMP made significant improvements in Important Farmland data structure as it incorporated digital soil survey data into the maps.  Future changes to soil surveys will be easier to incorporate into the database. 

Integrating FMMP data with planning, natural resource, and hazard related data to improve decisionmaking
  • FMMP provides technical assistance to researchers who are using Important Farmland data in modeling future urban growth and assessing other environmental changes.  Communication with users is important in assuring proper use of the data and helps them in achieving appropriate results

  • FMMP works with agencies that gather other agricultural statistics, such as the National Resources Inventory (NRI), to review processes and results. Opportunities for sharing resources or clarifying the usefulness of various data types for specific uses are being addressed.
  • Projects comparing FMMP data to FEMA floodplains, natural communities and jurisdictional boundaries are conducted as needed—these assessments are also used improve Important Farmland data to reflect, for example, ecological restoration projects that are currently underway.

These improvements occurred concurrently with the biennial map update cycle.  In this way, staff incorporated improvements with a practical approach that enabled FMMP to report on land use change every two years since 1984.