California

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Mitigation of Farmland Loss

American Farmland Trust (AFT) conducted research to provide the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) with information about programs that practice mitigation of farmland loss across the country. This report contains a brief summary and evaluation of the Farmland Protection Policy Act (FPPA) and case studies that describe the approaches and results
of mitigation efforts in some state and local programs.

 

Landscape Changes in Nevada County Reflect Social and Ecological Transitions

Large-scale migration of urban people seeking a better quality of life in rural places has generated considerable concern about “rural sprawl.” In a multimethod, fine-scale, longitudinal study of land ownership and use in Nevada County, we found that this quintessential “exurban” community reveals a complex story of interacting social and ecological change with some reasons for concern, but also optimism. Land-use data from 1957 to 2001 shows dramatic fragmentation of the county’s landscape as a result of increased residential use.

Landowners, While Pleased with Agricultural Easements, Suggest Improvements

We extensively interviewed 46 landowners in two northern Bay Area counties and nearby Yolo County to assess their satisfaction with agricultural conservation easements. The landowners in most cases were enthusiastic sellers of the easements; their motivations included cash, keeping land in the family and conservation. They reported generally satisfactory experiences with the easement programs.

Agricultural Easements Limited Geographically

A review of conservation programs in the state shows that agricultural easements are concentrated in central coastal counties. Many of these counties, such as Marin and Sonoma, are not top agricultural regions, while some of the state’s most productive agricultural counties have no easement programs at all. To date, there are approximately 120,000 California farmland acres in easements, nearly 80% of them grazing land and the rest in crops.

Agriculture in the Sacramento Region

The future of agriculture in the Sacramento region (El Dorado, Placer, Sacramento, Sutter, Yolo and Yuba counties) is being shaped by trends in land use, in agricultural markets and in technology. These issues were the theme of the February 14, 2000 forum, “Agriculture in the Sacramento Region,” sponsored by the UC Agricultural Issues Center and the Green Valley Initiative (a coalition of business, agricultural and environmental interests organized to promote open space conservation in the Sacramento region).

California Farmers and Conservation Easements: Motivations, Experiences and Perceptions in Three Counties

What motivates farmers to give up development rights and convey permanent conservation easements on their land? This report, the first in a series of three, examines the views and experiences of 46 landowners with conservation easements on their properties in three northern California counties. Thirty-seven had sold such easements in recent years; the other nine owners had recently purchased parcels with easements already in place. These farmland parcels are located in two North Bay coastal counties, Marin and Sonoma, and in Yolo County in the Central Valley.

Measuring Interactions Among Urbanization, Land Use Regulations and Public Finance

This article presents a polychotomous choice-selectivity model to estimate the interactions among urbanization, land use regulations, and public finance in five western states (California, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington). Land use regulations in these five states reduced the total developed area by an estimated 12.2% from 1982 to 1992, but increased housing prices between 1.3% and 4.7%, depending on the intensity of land use regulations in a county.

Farmland Conversion: Perceptions and Realities

Converting farmland into homes and other urban uses is a public issue in every agricultural region experiencing rapid urbanization. In California, the nation’s leading farm state, the issue is complicated by widely varying numbers about the extent of conversion and contrasting opinions about the causes and consequences of farmland loss. How extensive is farmland conversion in California and what are the consequences?

County Right-to-Farm Ordinances in California: An Assessment of Impact and Effectiveness

When first adopted by California local governments in the 1980s, right to-farm ordinances were seen by many farm leaders, real estate people, and public officials as an easy response to the problem of urban growth encroaching on adjacent farm operations. Such measures have little regulatory effect, but seek to reduce the opposition of urban neighbors to commercial agriculture as a nuisance generator. Most ordinances require that homebuyers who move to parcels adjacent to or near working farms and ranches be notified about the possible negative impacts of agricultural activities.

California Agricultural Districts Enabling Statutes (The Williamson Act)

The California Land Conservation Act of 1965--commonly referred to as the Williamson Act--enables local governments to enter into contracts with private landowners for the purpose of restricting specific parcels of land to agricultural or related open space use. In return, landowners receive property tax assessments which are much lower than normal because they are based upon farming and open space uses as opposed to full market value.

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