California Awards $8.5 Million for Climate Action on Natural Working Lands

​​​SACRAMENTO -- ​ California is providing $8.5 million in grants to six organizations to build regional and state capacity to increase climate resilience on the state’s natural and working lands. The goal is to build a resilient, equitable and carbon-neutral future. 

The Climate Smart Land Management Program (CSLMP) grants, awarded through the Department of Conservation, fund organizations using nature-based solutions to meet the goals of the State’s Natural and Working Lands Climate Smart Strategy​ and support Pathways to 30x30, the action plan to conserving 30% of California’s lands and coastal waters by 2030. 

“Harnessing our natural and working lands for climate readiness is critical to achieving California’s climate goals, and is a major focus of ours,” said Department of Conservation Director David Shabazian. “We look forward to working with grantees to find innovative solutions that support both climate and economic resiliency throughout California.” 

Funded through the 2022-23 state budget, this is the first round of awards for the CSLMP. 

Grantee California Open Lands (COL) is a California Native-led nonprofit conservation organization with Tribal partnerships and land management expertise designed to enhance and preserve natural resources and conservation through indigenous traditional ecological knowledge and practices. 

 “Two things that are important to climate resilience in fire- and flood- adapted landscapes are biodiversity and hands on the land," said Ali Meders-Knight, Executive Director of COL. 

 “This funding helps us and our subgrantees restore and cultivate California’s native ecosystems by reintroducing the critical human stewardship element that has been missing from native California landscapes for the past 180 years. Through the leadership of our traditional ecological knowledge practitioners and Tribal partners, we will deepen the process of restoring land and community in California with indigenous stewardship, thus conserving these open lands for generations to come." 

Another grantee, California Council of Land Trusts (CCLT), will use funding to ramp up support to urban and rural land trusts so they can rise to meet California’s climate goals. 

 “CCLT is thrilled and honored to receive this funding from the Department of​ Conservation to launch CA Onward. Land trusts in California work diligently to conserve and restore land in the Golden State but need additional resources to help realize the State’s ambitious goals as set forth in the Governor’s 30x30 initiative,” stated Bridget Fithian, Board Chair of CCLT. 

“The land trust community is poised to conserve another 3.5 million acres of forests, chaparral, wetlands, grasslands, deserts, coastal habitats, and working lands by 2030,” Fithian continued. “With the State partnership represented by this grant, we are much closer to making this goal a reality.” 

All six grantees and projects are listed below: 

  1. Amador Regional Conservation District (RCD): This grant will fund capacity-building work by the Amador Alpine Calaveras Tuolumne Working Lands Collaborative, comprised of Amador, Calaveras and Tuolumne RCDs, as well as the Alpine Watershed Group and the Carbon Cycle Institute. The group will provide technical assistance to farm, ranch and forest landowners interested in implementing nature-based solutions and help the collaborative expand to include counties, nonprofits and other entities. The grant will also help fund the implementation of a composting demonstration project. 
  2. California Council of Land Trusts (CCLT): Funding will build capacity of CCLT and land trusts throughout California. CCLT will award subgrants to other land trusts to develop their Climate Smart and 30x30 project implementation and create new and expanded partnerships with tribes and other stakeholders. The primary goals include building a pipeline of climate-smart projects, helping land trusts leverage funding and increasing the number of shovel-ready land trust projects. 
  3. California Open Lands: This tribal nonprofit will increase capacity of partnering California Tribes and California Native cultural practitioners to engage in the planning, development and implementation of restoration and demonstration projects that meet the priorities of ecological, cultural and economic resilience in the face of California’s climate challenges. The funding will help traditional ecological knowledge practitioners work together, create jobs, increase tribal participation in 30x30 and Climate Smart project implementation, and build infrastructure for integrating ecological knowledge. 
  4. Eastern Sierra Land Trust: This grantee will help tribes build capacity to provide valuable contributions to strategic planning and regional land management over the next three and a half years. The funding will support tribal partnerships, scale up current land conservation, work to achieve greater tribal participation in 30x30 and Climate Smart efforts, help tribes receive federal recognition and help the land trust become a regional hub for tribes and communities.
  5. San Diego County: The county will build capacity within the community to initiate new programs and improve upon existing programs aligned with Climate Smart strategies. Additionally, funds will support the implementation of demonstration projects useful for county and RCD programs to verify methods and tools for their use across the region. San Diego County will also develop an agricultural ombudsmen program to support agricultural producers. 
  6. University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR): UC ANR will build capacity and technical assistance for Climate Smart implementation by collaboratively developing plans centered on two of the most pressing climate action issues: equitable land access and land management diversification. Funding will help UC ANR identify barriers and opportunities through engagement with historically underrepresented communities through coalition building, capacity assessment and climate action planning.​

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