NR 2001-34
April 5, 2001

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


SACRAMENTO -- The California Department of Conservation today announced grants totaling $120,000 to 10 Resource Conservation Districts throughout the state to promote land and water stewardship projects at the grass-roots level.

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. RCDs are authorized to undertake projects such as watershed planning and management, agricultural land conservation, recreational land restoration, irrigation management, forest stewardship, wildlife habitat enhancement and conservation education.

"Resource Conservation Districts are involved in important local conservation efforts and we're pleased to support their valuable work through this annual grants program," Department of Conservation Director Darryl Young said.

This year's grants range from $3,000 to $21,608 and involve resource conservation districts headquartered in South Lake Tahoe, Riverside, Tehachapi, Cedarville, San Jacinto, Redding, Reedley, Greenville, Patterson and Ontario. The grants will provide for such diverse activities as improving irrigation methods, preventing wildfires and weed abatement. DOC received 19 applications requesting more than $294,000.

Tom Wehri, executive director of the California Association of Resource Conservation Districts, noted: "This grants program helps our districts deliver vital services in their local areas. Our districts can do a great deal of beneficial work with this money."

In addition to supporting land conservation, the Department of Conservation administers the state's beverage container recycling program; regulates oil, gas and geothermal wells in the state; studies and maps earthquakes, landslides and mineral resources; and ensures reclamation of mined lands.

Following are thumbnail sketches of each of the grants announced. The local contact person is noted in bold.

Tahoe RCD of S. Lake Tahoe ($20,035) – To promote backyard conservation and implementation of Best Management Practices for local homeowners through education, outreach, and technical assistance. The RCD will conduct on-site evaluations for homeowners and assist in implementing projects to reduce contaminants flowing into Lake Tahoe. Contact: Jennifer Heath, 530-573-2756.

Riverside-Corona RCD of Riverside ($8,500) – To develop a LandUse Learning Center that educates the public about personal stewardship and depicts current scientific understanding of local habitats, issues, and habitat conservation applications and efforts. Grant funding will be used to develop permanent interactive signage to promote, educate and enhance the Native Habitat Area within the LandUse Learning Center. Contact: Diana Ruiz, 909-683-7691.

Tehachapi RCD ($21,608) – To expand the RCD's Yellow Starthistle Spray and Manual Removal Program from simply controlling Yellow Starthistle to actually eradicating the noxious weed from the district. Also, to continue to build public support and participation through outreach, educational activities and workshops. Yellow Starthistle is an invasive, noxious, non-native weed that negatively effects most wildlife habitat and is toxic to some animals. Contact: Edward Duggan, 661-822-6853.

Surprise Valley RCD of Cedarville ($4,300) – To survey all private lands in the Surprise Valley Watershed for Yellow Starthistle and Perennial Pepperweed in order to develop a database that identifies areas requiring intensive eradication efforts. The RCD will partner with various private groups, including a local Boy Scout troop, to map the infested areas and distribute educational flyers throughout the community. A newsletter will be developed and distributed to educate local residents about the RCD and ongoing projects. Contact: Matthew Brown, 530-279-2522.

San Jacinto Basin RCD ($18,124) – To expand the custom irrigation scheduling service (the PRISM Program) to another 810 acres within the district. The PRISM program is a computerized irrigation scheduling program that provides grape growers with critical information to improve the irrigation process. Funding will expand the program to cover 70 percent of the total planted acreage in the valley. Improved irrigation not only benefits the farmers but also reduces chemical runoff that adversely affects both ground and surface water. Contact: Jim Gilmore, 909-654-7733.

Western Shasta RCD of Redding ($15,752) – To construct a fuel break in the Lower Clear Creek Watershed to protect the community and the environment from wildfires. In addition, the RCD will conduct two community meetings to educate landowners about fire-safe practices. Fire-fighting crews can also use the fuel break for wildfire defense. Contact: Mary Schroeder, 530-224-3250.

Feather River RCD of Greenville ($3,000) – To sponsor a community team to attend the 2001-2002 Adopt-A-Watershed Leadership Institute. The collaborative effort between the RCD, the Adopt-A-Watershed Organization, and the Round House Council will facilitate the building of a core group of residents dedicated to watershed stewardship. Contact: John Schramel, 530-284-7954.

West Stanislaus RCD of Patterson ($12,650) – To implement a Total Irrigation Management (TIM) Program. The RCD will analyze the soil, weather, and other factors to develop a comprehensive individualized management plan that empowers landowners to better manage their crops. Using TIMs, farmers should increase water efficiency and reduce non-point source pollution. At the end of the first year, a workshop will be held to educate landowners on the benefits of using this management system. Contact: Norman Crow, 209-892-3026.

Inland Empire West RCD of Ontario ($8,531) – To conduct workshops that educate local residents and result in the removal of trash and other debris from creeks within the Prado Basin. During each workshop, Best Management Practices will be presented to the group and water quality testing will be conducted to determine the project’s effectiveness. An internship program also will be implemented. The intern will build community support and facilitate communication within the watershed. Contact: Renee Latu, 909-930-2779.

Nevalencia RCD of Reedley ($7,500) – To develop reference materials that educate landowners and increase the RCD’s involvement within the community. Throughout the year, the RCD will publish and distribute additional information focusing on seasonal issues and concerns. Contact: Linda Ballentine, 925-855-7185.