NR 2001-69
November 13, 2001

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


New Non-Profit Group Will Focus on Rural Yolo County's Future

SACRAMENTO -- Capay Valley Vision, Inc., a newly established non-profit organization dedicated to charting a course for the future of that rural part of Yolo County, has received a $30,000 grant from the California Department of Conservation.

Capay Valley Vision plans to use the grant to produce an atlas documenting regional resources, demographics, infrastructure, needs and relevant economic trends within three months. It then will use focus groups and discussions with concerned parties to develop a community action plan and implementation strategy by September 2002.

"Helping Capay Valley citizens envision the future for this productive agricultural area is a very worthwhile undertaking," DOC Director Darryl Young said.

Capay Valley Vision is a collaboration of local farmers and ranchers, Native Americans and other community residents. Partner organizations include the Cache Creek Conservancy, Rumsey Indian Rancheria, the Yolo County Resource Conservation District, the County of Yolo and the Yolo Land Trust.

At the core of Capay Valley Vision's mission are the desires to preserve farmland and increase the sustainability of regional agricultural enterprise. As part of its community action plan, the organization might attempt to enhance the marketing of Capay Valley produce, just as Apple Hill growers market their fruit or Napa Valley growers their grapes. Other possible steps could include devising ways to encourage additional smaller scale and organic farming operations to relocate in the valley while discouraging the breakup of farms into rural ranchettes and estate housing.

One way to promote farming is the creation of agricultural conservation easements. That is the focus of the California Farmland Conservancy Program, the source of the state's grant to Capay Valley Vision. The CFCP, administered by the Department of Conservation's Division of Land Resource Protection, provides grants that enable local governments and non-profit organizations to work with landowners to voluntarily remove the development potential on their farmland, thus creating permanent conservation. Up to 10 percent of CFCP grant funds are available for projects which develop policy or planning oriented to agricultural land protection, and for improvements to land already under an agricultural conservation easement (for example, erosion control or riparian area improvements).

Yolo County ranked 23rd among California's 58 counties in 2000 with nearly $303 million in gross agricultural production. Tomatoes, grapes, rice, hay, seed crops and corn are the county's leading commodities. At the same time, the county's population is growing rapidly. Yolo County's population in 2000 was about 169,000; by 2020, according to Department of Finance projections, the population will be more than 262,000.

"We believe that Capay Valley Vision has an outstanding plan to set the stage for an integrated regional planning strategy that will have significant community support," Young said. "In addition to ultimately leading to more long-term farmland protection, the work being planned could prove a valuable model for other rural areas that are working with Native American communities to balance farmland conservation with casino development."