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NR 2001-57
September 10, 2001

Contact: Carol Dahmen
Mark Oldfield
Don Drysdale
Ed Wilson
(916) 323-1886

PACE OF URBANIZATION SLOWS IN SOLANO COUNTY

However, 1,800 Acres of Prime Farmland Taken Out of Production
In Favor of Natural Reserves, New Map from DOC Shows

SACRAMENTO -- The pace of urbanization slowed in Solano County, with 679 acres of land converted to urban uses between 1998-2000, according to maps released today by the California Department of Conservation. The maps are designed to help local governments evaluate land-use planning decisions.

The Farmland Mapping and Monitoring Program (FMMP), part of DOC's Division of Land Resource Protection, maps 44.1 million acres of California's public and private land to produce a major study every two years.

In Solano County, 604 acres of agricultural land -- including 131 acres of prime farmland -- were reclassified as urban land by the FMMP. An additional 75 acres of land classified as "other" -- a category that includes wetlands, low-density "ranchettes" and brush or timberlands unsuitable for grazing -- was reclassified to urban.

Since the FMMP began in 1984, 13,656 acres have been urbanized in Solano County. During the 1996-98 mapping cycle, the total was 2,115 acres.

Due to the designation of natural reserves, wetlands and recreational land in the delta, 1,801 acres of prime farmland were reclassified as "other" land. More land-use changes of this type are expected in the future. Also looking ahead, 5,874 acres -- the bulk of it grazing land -- are committed to non-agricultural use. Often, this is land earmarked for development. In some cases infrastructure development, such as sanitary sewer installation, may be underway.

Solano County is among the first to be mapped in the 1998-2000 cycle. Of the 582,370 total acres in the county, 371,402 (64 percent) were in agricultural use, 104,977 acres (18 percent) were "other" and 53,809 (9 percent) were urbanized. The remainder is in water areas.

The map has been sent to Solano County planning officials, and interested organizations such as the county Farm Bureau, Local Agency Formation Commission, planning consultants and area resource conservation districts have received copies.

"We do this mapping to help counties plan and prepare for their expected growth in the coming years," explained Department of Conservation Director Darryl Young. "This information is a tool that can help Solano County and other local governments balance the needs of a growing population with those of the agricultural economy."

Solano County's agricultural land will continue to face development pressure in the foreseeable future. The California Department of Finance projects that the county's population will grow from its current 399,000 to 564,900 by 2020.

According to the California Department of Food and Agriculture, Solano ranks No. 31 among 58 among California counties in gross value of agricultural production (more than $185 million in 2000). Primary crops and products include tomatoes, nursery stock, hay and wine grapes.

The FMMP found the following examples of agricultural land being urbanized in Solano County:

  • New agricultural processing, warehouses and manufacturing in Dixon.

  • Approximately 260 acres of grazing land turned into housing, much of it in the Hiddenbrooke development.

  • A 50-acre addition to the B&J Sanitary Landfill north of the Montezuma Hills.

The latest statewide study by the FMMP, Farmland Conversion Report 1996-98, was released last fall. About 70,000 acres were urbanized throughout the state; more than 43,000 acres of the new urban land, an area about the size of the city of Modesto, were developed on agricultural land.

Through the Department of Conservation, the state offers several programs that provide financial incentives to keep land in agricultural use.

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