California’s Strategic Growth Council has approved final guidelines for a new program that will integrate conservation of agricultural land into the state’s efforts to mitigate climate change and prevent urban sprawl. The Sustainable Agricultural Land Conservation (SALC) Program will use cap-and-trade revenue to encourage counties, municipalities, and partner organizations to identify and protect critically threatened farmland at risk of conversion to urban uses.
The program will receive $5 million this year for implementation. Approximately $1 million will be used to fund strategy planning grants from partnerships led by counties and cities to identify critically threatened agricultural lands and specify next steps for protecting these lands. The remaining $4 million will be used to fund conservation easements that will help protect farm and rangelands that may otherwise be developed or converted to non-agricultural uses.
The SALC program will complement the Strategic Growth Council’s Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities Program, which will fund projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions through compact infill development, active transportation, and accessibility to affordable housing within California’s urban and suburban communities.