NR 2001-73
December 20, 2001

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


SACRAMENTO -- The pace of urbanization sped up in Sacramento County from 1998-2000, with 6,430 acres of land -- much of it farmland -- reclassified as being in urban uses, according to a map released today by the California Department of Conservation. The map is designed to help local governments evaluate land-use planning decisions.

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 Sacramento County, a net total of 3,462 acres of farmland -- including 1,340 acres of prime farmland, the most productive type -- were reclassified as urban land by the FMMP. Additionally, 1,786 acres of grazing land and 1,182 acres of land classified as "other" -- a category that includes wetlands, low-density "ranchettes" and brush or timberlands unsuitable for grazing -- were urbanized.

Since the FMMP first began mapping Sacramento County in 1988, 25,875 acres have been urbanized. During the 1996-98 mapping cycle, the total was 3,812 acres, including 1,317 acres of farmland.

Looking ahead, the county reports that 3,415 acres -- including 825 acres of 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.

Of the 636,083 acres mapped in Sacramento County, 37 percent was farmland, 26 percent grazing land, 25 percent urban and 10 percent "other" land. The remainder is classified as water.

The map has been sent to Sacramento 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 Sacramento County and other local governments balance the needs of a growing population with those of the agricultural economy."

Sacramento County's 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 1.2 million to 1.7 million by 2020.

According to the California Department of Food and Agriculture, the gross value of Sacramento County's agricultural production was more than $285 million in 2000, ranking it 26th among the state's 58 counties.

Following are examples of agricultural land being urbanized in Sacramento County:

  • Some of the new housing developments in the Natomas area (acreage figures are approximate) include Natomas Park (700 acres), Tuscano Apartments (50 acres), Gateway West (150 acres), Riverbend (100 acres), and Riverwalk (100 acres). The Two Rivers Elementary School (30 acres) was also added.

  • New developments in Elk Grove included East Park (80 acres), Clarke Farms (50 acres), Silver Meadows (50 acres), Silver Legends (50 acres), and the Citrus Grove Apartments (50 acres). The Elk Grove Automall (55 acres) and a Walgreens (25 acres) also were added.

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.