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Farmland Mapping and Monitoring Program
1988 to 2008 TIME SERIES
Natomas Basin, Sacramento County

Land use conversion in the Natomas basin area of Sacramento, 1988-2008 

In this Image

Changes in this area are predominantly conversions from irrigated farming (green) to urban (red) and fallow land (yellow). Most of the changes are associated with residential and commercial development in the northern portion of the City of Sacramento, as well as additions to Sacramento International Airport.  The large fallow area adjacent to the airport in the later frames is the site of the planned Metro Air business park.  The image depicts Prime Farmland decreasing by more than 8,200 acres during this time period, while urban land grew by 7,800 acres, out of a total image area of 48,800 acres.  Information on these changes was gathered from air photos, local comments, and field reconnaissance. 

Sacramento County has been among the 'Top Ten Urbanizing Counties' as well as in the top ranks for net loss of irrigated land as mapped by FMMP between 1988 and 2008. County growth in urban land has averaged over 4,600 acres per biennial map update since 1988.

A brief history of the Natomas Basin

The 57,000 acre Natomas basin includes land north of the confluence of the American and Sacramento Rivers and into adjacent Sutter County.  In the past, native americans settled in the oak woodlands, grasslands, and along the marshland banks. Beginning early last century, much of the basin was drained for agriculture and levees were built for flood protection.  Rice was the main agricultural crop.  Urban development began when Sacramento Municipal Airport (now International Airport) was built in the 1960's.  

The Natomas community, close to the state capital and bisected by two major freeways, had more than 20 subdivisions underway, along with office and retail development, during its latest growth period.  This was mitigated in part by the preservation of 4,400 acres of habitat by the Natomas Basin Conservancy.  A FEMA decertifcation of the levees protecting the basin from flooding has temporarily suspended new development as of the 2008 image.