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Sonoma County Venture Conservation Partnership

Year Awarded: Fiscal Year 2016
USDA Funding: $8.05 million
Partner-Contributed Funding: $12.75 million
Project Timeline: 2017 – 2021
Conservation Program Funded: Agricultural Conservation Easement Program – Agricultural Land Easement (ACEP-ALE), Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP)
California Counties: Sonoma County
 
Lead Partner: The Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District (SCAPOSD) permanently protects the diverse agricultural, natural resource, and scenic open space lands of Sonoma County for future generations. For more information on the Sonoma County Venture Conservation Partnership, please contact Sara Press, Land Acquisition Associate, Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District.
 
Collaborating Partners:
  • Sonoma Resource Conservation District
  • Gold Ridge Resource Conservation District
  • Sonoma Land Trust
  • Sonoma County Water Agency
  • Pepperwood Preserve

Project Summary

The Sonoma County Venture Conservation Partnership is a collaboration of partners, funders, residents, farmers and ranchers working to conserve and restore land in Sonoma County to ensure resilience to climate change through healthy soils, high-quality surface and groundwater supplies, healthy habitat for fish and wildlife, and a thriving agricultural industry. 

Led by the Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District (SCAPOSD) in partnership with core partners, including the Sonoma Resource Conservation District, Gold Ridge Resource Conservation District, Sonoma County Land Trust, Sonoma County Water Agency and Pepperwood’s Dwight Center for Conservation Science, the Sonoma County Venture Conservation Partnership leverages local knowledge, funding, and resources with federal USDA-NRCS dollars through the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP). 

Priority resource concerns for the Sonoma County Venture Conservation Partnership RCPP include:
  • Insufficient water supplies
  • Inadequate habitat for fish and wildlife
  • Soil quality degradation
  • Water quality degradation

RCPP elements for the Sonoma county County Venture Conservation Partnership include: 1) data analysis to identify high-priority, multiple-benefit, integrated projects, 2) voluntary conservation easement agreements to protects identified conservation values on a property, 3) conservation planning to develop site-specific plans that balance a landowner or manager’s individual needs, goals and timelines with practices that preserve and enhance natural resources on the property, and 4) on-farm conservation practices (EQIP Contracts) to implement best management practices to meet both agricultural and environmental quality goals.

Landowners with agricultural operations in Sonoma County may also be eligible for technical and financial assistance through the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP) Agricultural Land Easements (ALE), Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) to address resources concerns identified in the the Sonoma County Venture Conservation Partnership RCPP agreement.

Technical and financial assistance for ACEP-ALE is targeted to agricultural lands and producers:
  • To protect high priority agricultural lands in Sonoma County that provide important ecological functions and support diverse landscapes.
  • To protect the long-term viability of the nation’s food supply by preventing conversion of productive working lands to non-agricultural uses.
  • To protect grazing uses and related conservation values by conserving grassland, including rangeland, pastureland and shrubland
‚ÄčTechnical and financial assistance for EQIP and CSP is targeted to agricultural lands and producers:
  • To address insufficient water supplies, water quality, inadequate habitat for fish and wildlife, and soil quality
  • Located in priority groundwater basins in watersheds where conservation planning and practices would result in multiple benefits

ACEP-ALE Application Sign-up and Cut-off Dates

For fiscal year 2019, funding decisions are deferred to fiscal year 2020
For fiscal year 2020, application funding consideration cut-off dates: (TBD)
  • NRCS accepts ACEP-ALE applications year-round however NRCS establishes cutoff dates to batch applications and make funding decisions.
  • Interested partners working with Sonoma County landowners should contact, Misti Arias, Land Acquisition Associate, Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District or Elizabeth Palmer, ACEP-ALE Easement Program Specialist.
  • For application forms, supplemental information (including ranking criteria), and land owner and land eligibility visit the ACEP-ALE webpage.
  • Funding decisions for fiscal year 2020 will be announced no later than September 30, 2020.

EQIP Application Sign-up and Cut-off Dates

NEXT BATCHING DATE TO CONSIDER ELIGIBLE APPLICATIONS FOR FUNDING: JUNE 14, 2019
  • NRCS accepts EQIP applications year-round, however, NRCS establishes cutoff dates to batch applications and make funding decisions.
  • For this RCPP project, NRCS will screen and rank eligible applications for funding consideration by the batching date listed above.
  • For information on producer and land eligibility for EQIP visit the Program Eligibility webpage.
  • An EQIP application should be supported by a conservation plan, co-developed by the landowner and the NRCS conservationist, spelling out the actions that will be undertaken to improve the natural resource condition being addressed and the timeline for doing so.
  • The time needed to complete a conservation plan and process eligibility can vary, from a few weeks to more than a month.
  • Interested applicants should contact USDA-NRCS in the county they own land and/or have an agricultural operation.

Lead Partner Contact

Misti Arias, Acquisition Program Manager
Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District
Phone: (707) 565-7368

NRCS Contact

Drew Loganbill, District Conservationist
Natural Resources Conservation Service
Petaluma Service Center
Sonoma and Marin Counties
Phone: (707) 794-1242 ext 107
 
Elizabeth Palmer, ACEP-ALE Easement Program Specialist
Natural Resources Conservation Service
Davis State Office, California
Phone: (530) 792-5672
Email: Elizabeth.Palmer@usda.gov