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Organization Title
Farmland Mapping and Monitoring Program
1984 to 2008 TIME SERIES
Fresno-Clovis area, Fresno County

Land use change in the Fresno area, 1984-2008

In this Image

This image shows the greater rate of urban growth on the northern side of Fresno, with changes from irrigated farmland (green), dryland farming and fallow land (yellow), and other land (grey) to urban (red). The image area covers an area of approximately 16 by 15 miles.  During the time period shown, nearly 23,000 acres of irrigated farmland were converted to urban land; more than 60% of the conversion affecting Prime Farmland.  Information on these changes was gathered from air photos, local comments, and field reconnaissance.

Fresno County has been among the 'Top 5' counties in urbanization of irrigated farmland since FMMP began mapping in 1984. The San Joaquin Valley as a whole has been the leading region in conversion of irrigated farmland to Urban throughout FMMP's history.

A brief history of the Fresno-Clovis area

Fresno and Clovis are located in the center of the San Joaquin Valley, just south of the San Joaquin River as it flows out of the Sierra Nevada mountains. Fresno was created in 1872, with the development of the Central Pacific Railroad line through the area. It took its name from the ash trees native to the valley (Fresno is the Spanish word for "ash tree"). Clovis was also a rail stop and the terminus of the 42 mile-long Fresno Flume. This flume carried logs from the Sierra to drying yards in Clovis, dropping 4900 feet in elevation.

Frances Eisen, father of the wine industry in Fresno County, also began the raisin industry in 1875 when he accidentally let some of his grapes dry on the vine. A.Y. Easterby and Clovis Cole developed extensive grain and cattle ranches. These and other citizens laid the groundwork for the cultivation of Fresno County, now the nation's leading agricultural county producing over $4.8 billion per year in more than 250 commercial crops. Fruit and nut crops continue to be the leading farm commodities in the county.

The Fresno area was one of the fastest-growing regions in the United States during the last two decades. The Department of Finance estimates that the City of Fresno's population grew by 94% between 1984 and 2008 (274,300 to 485,335); while Clovis grew by 150% during the same period (37,600 to 93,866).