SACRAMENTO -- The
pace of urbanization slowed slightly in
Fresno County, with 3,699 acres of land
converted to urban uses from 1998-2000,
according to maps released today by the
California Department of Conservation.
The maps are designed to help local
governments evaluate land-use planning
The Farmland Mapping
and Monitoring Program (FMMP), part of
DOC's Division of Land Resource
Protection, maps 44.1 million acres of
California's public and private land to
produce a major study every two years.
In Fresno County,
3,098 acres of agricultural land --
including 1,358 acres of prime farmland
-- were reclassified as urban land by
the FMMP. An additional 601 acres of
land classified as "other" -- a category
that includes wetlands, low-density "ranchettes"
and brush or timberlands unsuitable for
grazing -- was reclassified to urban.
The mountainous areas
of eastern Fresno County, largely in
public ownership, are not mapped. Nor
are farm and grazing land in western
Fresno County, including the Coast Range
foothills and most of the Westlands
Since the FMMP began
in 1984, 23,296 acres have been
urbanized in Fresno County, the nation's
leading agricultural county. During the
1996-98 mapping cycle, the total was
3,991 acres, including 2,795 acres of
Looking ahead, 6,629
acres -- including 1,885 acres of prime
farmland -- are committed to
non-agricultural use. Often, this is
land earmarked for development. In some
cases infrastructure development, such
as sewer installation, may be underway.
Fresno County is
among the first to be mapped in the
1998-2000 cycle. Of the 1,123,197 acres
mapped in the county, 642,167 (57
percent) were cultivated, 319,691 (24.5
percent) were being used for grazing and
97,002 (8.6 percent) were urbanized.
The map has been sent
to Fresno County planning officials, and
interested parties such as the county
Farm Bureau, Local Agency Formation
Commission, planning consultants and
area resource conservation districts
have received copies.
"We do this mapping
to help counties plan and prepare for
their expected growth in the coming
years," explained Department of
Conservation Director Darryl Young.
"This information is a tool that can
help Fresno County and other local
governments balance the needs of a
growing population with those of the
agricultural land will continue to face
development pressure in the foreseeable
future. The California Department of
Finance projects that the county's
population will grow from its current
874,100 to 1.5 million by 2020.
According to the
California Department of Food and
Agriculture, the gross value of Fresno
County's agricultural production was
more than $3.4 billion in 2000.
examples of agricultural land being
urbanized in Fresno County:
Several new housing
developments in the Fresno area --
including Sommerville, Cambridge,
Cambridge at Figarden, Granville
Estates, Shepard Ranch and South
Hampton -- totaling approximately
New homes and
schools in Clovis, including the
Fairview Estates, Buchanan and Ranch
developments in Kerman (the Kerman
Photovoltaic Plant), San Joaquin (the
San Joaquin Industrial Center), Sanger
(the Palisades housing community and
Sanger High School), Selma (La Dante
Rose and Corvina II housing
developments) and Parlier (a junior
high school and a Maxco Supply Inc.
The latest statewide
study by the FMMP, Farmland Conversion
Report 1996-98, was released last fall.
About 70,000 acres were urbanized
throughout the state; more than 43,000
acres of the new urban land, an area
about the size of the city of Modesto,
were developed on agricultural land.