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NR 2004-19
June 23, 2004

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

IRRIGATED FARMLAND, WILDLIFE AREAS
GAIN GROUND IN GLENN COUNTY

SACRAMENTO – Land use change in Glenn County in recent years had more to do with the development of orchards and wildlife areas than urbanization, according to a new map released by the California Department of Conservation.

While 342 acres were added to the urban total between 2000 and 2002, more than 4,500 acres of irrigated agriculture were added, primarily in the Coast Range and near Hamilton City. Additions to the Upper Butte Basin Wildlife Area and other changes increased nonagricultural uses by more than 3,800 acres.

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 2002 analysis is nearly complete statewide, while 2004 mapping is underway.

“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 Glenn County, according to the most recent FMMP report, grazing and dry-land agricultural uses dropped by 8,813 acres as land was reclassified to either irrigated categories or “other” land. More than 75 percent of the newly irrigated areas did not qualify as prime farmland. Other land-use changes primarily were additions to Upper Butte Basin Wildlife Area, but the map also captured more detail on the extent of ranchettes, wetlands, and riparian areas elsewhere in the county. More than 40 percent of the new urban land occurred on prime farmland.

Since the 1990 FMMP survey, Glenn County has gained 680 urbanized acres while 6,667 acres have been reclassified out of irrigated and grazing categories.

The agricultural land in Glenn County will continue to face development pressure in the future. The California Department of Finance projects that the county’s population will increase from about 26,900 in 2000 to more than 46,000 by 2020.

According to the California Department of Food and Agriculture, the gross value of Glenn County’s agricultural production was nearly $305 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.

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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