SACRAMENTO The pace
of urbanization increased in the late
1990s in Riverside and San Bernardino
counties, according to maps released
today by the California Department of
Conservation. The maps provide
decision-makers with land-use conversion
information to use in planning for
California's agricultural land
A total of 16,998
acres were urbanized in the two counties
between 1998-2000, compared to just over
11,000 acres in 1996-1998.
Riverside County was
the focus of major land use change
between 1998 and 2000, with 14,080 acres
urbanized. Moreover, a net total of
15,419 acres of agricultural land were
reclassified to non-agricultural uses
due primarily to the completion of the
Diamond Valley Lake and the
establishment of ecosystem and wildlife
More than 3,000 acres
of prime farmland -- the most productive
type -- were brought into production,
including a 1,000-acre citrus orchard.
However, coupled with a continued
downward trend in the amount of land
being cultivated, land-use changes in
the county resulted in a net loss of
8,475 acres of prime farmland.
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.
Since the FMMP began
in 1984, 80,780 acres have been
reclassified as urban in Riverside
County, which consistently leads the
state in the amount of new urban land.
In San Bernardino
County, 2,918 acres were urbanized from
1998-2000, up from 2,376 acres in
1996-98. Since 1984, 49,081 acres have
been reclassified as urban in the
county, ranking it just behind Riverside
in the amount of land converted.
San Bernardino County
is also losing agricultural acreage as
land, particularly in the Mojave Desert
area, is no longer being cultivated.
More than 6,000 acres were downgraded to
other or grazing land categories. Of
that, more than 4,000 acres were
previously described as prime farmland.
"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 local governments balance the needs
of a growing population with those of
the agricultural economy."
The Inland Empire's
agricultural land will continue to face
development pressure. The California
Department of Finance projects that
Riverside County's population will grow
from 1.6 million to 2.9 million by 2020
while San Bernardino County is expected
to grow from 1.8 million to more than 3
This can be verified
by information submitted by the counties
on land committed to non-agricultural
use. In Riverside County, 46,982 acres
-- including 22,000 acres of farmland
are currently earmarked for development,
while 16,307 acres of land are committed
in San Bernardino. In some cases
infrastructure development, such as
sewer installation, may be underway.
According to the
California Department of Food and
Agriculture, Riverside County's
agricultural production value was more
than $1 billion in 2000, ranking it
ninth among the state's 58 counties. San
Bernardino ranked 15th at nearly $620
The new maps have
been sent to county planning officials
as well as interested parties such as
local Farm Bureaus, Local Agency
Formation Commissions, planning
consultants and area resource
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.