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NR 2004-11
May 14, 2004

Contact: Anita Gore
Ed Wilson
Mark Oldfield
Don Drysdale
(916) 323-1886

SHASTA COUNTY AGRICULTURAL ACREAGE DECREASE

SACRAMENTO -- The amount of agricultural land in Shasta County continued to decrease while urbanized land increased, according to a new map released by the California Department of Conservation.

More than 1,300 acres were removed from agricultural categories while nearly 1,000 acres were added to the urban total between 2000 and 2002.

The Farmland Mapping and Monitoring Program (FMMP), part of DOC's Division of Land Resource Protection, documents land-use conversion on 45.8 million acres of California’s private and public land every two years. The maps and statistics are designed to help local governments evaluate land-use planning decisions. The 2000-2002 mapping – the clearest look yet at state land use thanks to improved digital mapping processes -- is ongoing throughout the state.

“This information helps counties and cities see the patterns and make informed choices about how they want to direct growth in the future,” Department of Conservation Director Darryl Young said. “The population of California will continue to grow, and it’s vital that we ensure there’s enough room for people and agriculture.”

The Farmland Mapping and Monitoring Program classifies land as either farmland (prime being the best of four types of farmland), grazing land, urban land, other land or water. The “other” category includes low-density "ranchettes," wetlands, and brush or timberlands unsuitable for grazing.

In Shasta County, according to the most recent FMMP report, 989 acres were urbanized while 2,411 acres of farmland were downgraded due to being idle for three or more mapping cycles. The vast majority of the land downgraded -- 2,188 acres – was prime farmland. As a result of the reclassifications, grazing land increased by more than 1,000 acres.

Examples of recent urbanization in Shasta County include 125 acres of new homes in Redding, 100 acres of new buildings and a road near the Redding airport, and 20 acres of new structures in the Cottonwood area.

Since the 1990 FMMP survey, Shasta County has gained 6,524 urbanized acres while 5,000 agricultural acres have been reclassified.

The agricultural land in Shasta County will continue to face development pressure in the foreseeable future. The California Department of Finance projects that the county’s population will increase from 165,000 in 2000 to 231,000 by 2020.

According to the California Department of Food and Agriculture, the gross value of Shasta County’s agricultural production was $91.5 million in 2002.

The maps have been sent to county planning officials and organizations such as the county Farm Bureau, Local Agency Formation Commission, city planners, irrigation districts and county resource conservation districts. Printed copies, enlargements, or digital versions of the maps are available to the public. Call (916) 324-0859 or email fmmp@consrv.ca.gov for more information.

The latest statewide study by the FMMP, Farmland Conversion Report 1998-2000, was released last June. More than 91,000 acres were urbanized throughout the state – a 30-percent increase from the 1996-98 mapping cycle – and 27 percent of that total came from irrigated farmland.

Through the Department of Conservation, the state offers programs that provide financial incentives to keep land in agricultural use. The California Farmland Conservancy Program makes grants available to local governments, land trusts or resource conservation districts to purchase permanent agricultural conservation easements from willing landowners. These easements prohibit future development. Farmland Security Zone and Williamson Act contracts provide potential tax benefits to landowners who commit to keeping their land in agricultural use for periods of 20 or 10 years, respectively.

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