NR 2002-28
June 18, 2002

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


SACRAMENTO -- The pace of urbanization in Glenn, Shasta and Tehama counties from 1998-2000 increased compared to 1996-98, and a significant amount of Tehama County farmland was reclassified as being non-cultivated in maps released today by the California Department of Conservation. The maps are 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 44.5 million acres of California's public and private land to produce a major study every two years.

All told, 2,311 acres of land were urbanized in the three counties during this mapping cycle compared to 1,272 acres from 1996-98.

In Glenn County, 231 net acres of land were urbanized during the current cycle compared to 56 acres from 1996-98. All told, 113 acres were reclassified from farmland to the non-cultivated categories of urban, grazing or “other” land – a category that includes wetlands, low-density “ranchettes” and brush or timberlands unsuitable for grazing from 1998-2000. That’s a decrease from the last map, which showed 775 acres of farmland reclassified.

Among the urbanization observed in the county were new homes in Willows (40 acres), Orland (10 acres) and Hamilton City (8.5 acres). The biggest single change was the 130-acre Thunderhill Racetrack on Highway 162 west of Interstate 5.

Looking ahead, the county reports that 2,417 acres of farmland and 2,915 total acres of land are committed to future non-agricultural use. Often, this is land earmarked for development. In some cases infrastructure development, such as sewer installation, may be underway.

In Shasta County, 1,405 net acres of land were urbanized in 1998-2000, up from 1,182 acres in 1996-98. The majority of new urban land occurred on grazing and wooded areas, leaving the amount of cultivated land in the county virtually unchanged. During the 1996-98 update, most urbanization also occurred in non-cultivated locations, and a total of 1,487 acres were reclassified out of farmland due to being left idle for six years.

Examples of urbanization in the county include nearly 250 acres of homes and 85 acres of commercial structures in the Redding area, about 75 acres of new homes in the Enterprise area, the 53-acre Willow Glen Estates development in the Cottonwood area, and a 78-acre expansion of the Anderson Landfill.

Shasta County reported that 237 acres of grazing land and 2,980 acres of “other” land are committed to future non-agricultural use.

In Tehama County, 675 acres of land were reclassified as urban, a large increase from the 1996-98 total of 34 acres. A large proportion of this increase, approximately 625 acres, was due to the increase in development density at the Lake California resort development northeast of Red Bluff. Other examples of urbanization included new homes on the northern fringe of Red Bluff, an expansion of the Foothill Recycling Center, a new Ford automobile dealership in Corning and a 15-acre expansion of Corning Disposal and Recycling. Meanwhile, 1,193 acres of farmland were reclassified to non-cultivated categories compared to a 113-acre increase in cultivated land in the 1996-98 cycle.

Tehama County reported that 3,877 acres – including 1,237 acres of farmland – are committed to future non-agricultural use.

Since 1990, the three counties have gained a combined 3,187 acres of farmland and 7,530 acres of urban land. Gains in farmland over that time are primarily due to the planting of irrigated eucalyptus groves and increases in irrigated pastures.

The maps have been sent to planning officials in each county. Interested parties such as the 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 these counties and other local governments balance the needs of a growing population with those of the agricultural economy."

Agricultural land in these counties will continue to face development pressure in the foreseeable future. The California Department of Finance projects Glenn County’s population to grow from its current 29,000 to 45,000 in 2020, Shasta County’s to grow from 178,500 to 247,000 and Tehama County’s to grow from 58,700 to 77,700.

According to the California Department of Food and Agriculture, the gross value of Glenn County's agricultural production was nearly $281 million in 2000, while Tehama County’s was $110.7 million and Shasta County’s $50 million.

The latest statewide study by the FMMP, Farmland Conversion Report 1996-98, was released in the fall of 2000. 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. A new statewide report will be released this summer.

In addition to administering agricultural and open-space land conservation programs, the Department of Conservation ensures the reclamation of land used for mining; promotes beverage container recycling; regulates oil, gas and geothermal wells; and studies and maps earthquakes and other geologic phenomena.