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NR 2001-04
February 2, 2001

Contact: Carol Dahmen
Mark Oldfield
Don Drysdale
Ed Wilson
(916) 323-1886

DEPARTMENT OF CONSERVATION AWARDS $2 MILLION
TO RESOURCE CONSERVATION DISTRICTS AROUND THE STATE

26 RCDs Receive Grants to Hire Watershed Coordinators

SACRAMENTO -- The California Department of Conservation today announced $2 million in grants that will allow Resource Conservation Districts around the state to kick-start efforts that ultimately can lead to cleaner water, scenic preservation and improved natural wildlife habitat.

The pilot grant program will enable 26 RCDs to hire watershed coordinators. Generally, watershed coordinators help assess local watersheds -- the area drained by a river or river system -- and help bring together local government, landowners and community groups in order to improve the health of the watersheds.

Thirty grants, ranging from $94,800 to $37,500, were awarded. Four districts -- the Alturas-based Central Modoc RCD, the Topanga-based RCD of the Santa Monica Mountains, the Auburn-based Placer County RCD and the Weaverville-based Trinity County RCD -- received two grants.

"There's a real need throughout the state for the coordination of efforts at the local level to improve and protect our watersheds," Department of Conservation Director Darryl Young said. "Everyone lives in a watershed, and the health and vitality of each one is an important measure of the quality of life in California."

Resource Conservation Districts are locally governed agencies set up as special districts under California law with their own locally appointed or elected boards of directors. There are 103 RCDs in the state. In addition to watershed planning and management, RCDs are authorized to undertake projects such as agricultural land conservation, recreational land restoration, irrigation management, forest stewardship, wildlife habitat enhancement and conservation education.

"Resource Conservation Districts play an important role in the state's overall land and water conservation efforts at the grass-roots level,'' Young said. "RCDs do a tremendous amount of beneficial work."

DOC's Division of Land Resource Protection received 78 applications requesting more than $5 million in funding. A committee comprised of representatives of state and federal agencies as well as a working watershed organization reviewed the applications. In order to qualify for a grant, RCDs had to have a 25 percent local match of funding. Tom Wehri, executive director of the California Association of Resource Conservation Districts, was pleased at the response to the pilot program.

"From our perspective, it's very encouraging to see that so many of our RCDs applied," he said. "It means that they're willing to put in the effort, that they have good ideas and a strong desire to make changes for the better in their local watersheds."

The RCDs that received grants must spend the money by June 30, 2002. It is uncertain whether there will be funding earmarked for this program in the future.

In addition to the watershed coordinator grants, DOC's Division of Land Resource Protection annually makes grants totaling $120,000 for a wide variety of RCD projects. This year's grants will be announced in March.

Aside from working with RCDs and administering agricultural and open-space land conservation programs, the Department of Conservation ensures the reclamation of land used for mining; promotes beverage container recycling; regulates oil, gas and geothermal wells; and studies and maps earthquakes and other geologic phenomena. More information about DOC programs is available online at www.consrv.ca.gov.

A list of the Resource Conservation Districts that received funding, the city in which they are based and the amount received follows.

RCD Name City Amount

Central Modoc RCD Alturas $61,000

Yolo County RCD Woodland $67,300

Mendocino County RCD Ukiah $66,700

RCD of the Santa Monica Mts. Topanga $60,400

Napa County RCD Napa $54,100

Placer County RCD Auburn $77,300

Tehama County RCD Red Bluff $66,800

West Lake RCD Lakeport $65,800

San Joaquin County RCD Stockton $37,500

RCD of the Santa Monica Mts. Topanga $66,400

Trinity County RCD Weaverville $88,300

Santa Cruz County RCD Capitola $77,900

Coastal San Luis RCD Morro Bay $94,800

Marin County RCD Point Reyes Station $70,400

Trinity County RCD Weaverville $81,300

Mariposa County RCD Mariposa $65,700

Cachuma RCD Santa Maria $78,100

Placer County RCD Auburn $82,200

Shasta Valley RCD Yreka $44,400

Tahoe RCD South Lake Tahoe $69,400

Ulatis RCD Dixon $66,700

Monterey County RCD Salinas $50,500

Central Modoc RCD Alturas $66,000

Contra Costa RCD Concord $50,300

Westside RCD Five Points $50,100

East Stanislaus RCD Modesto $60,000

Surprise Valley RCD Cedarville $82,800

Mission RCD Fallbrook $83,300

Elsinore-Murrieta-Anza RCD Murrieta $65,600

East Merced RCD Merced $48,900

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