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NR 2003-01
January 14, 2003

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

DOC ISSUES GRANTS TO PROMOTE
CONSERVATION AT GRASS-ROOTS LEVEL

Editors: Please note the local contacts for each recipient organization.

SACRAMENTO – Resource Conservation Districts around the state will use grants announced today by the California Department of Conservation to reduce wildfire risk, eliminate noxious weeds, and improve irrigation efficiency, among other projects.

DOC issued $120,000 in grants to help eight Resource Conservation Districts promote land and water stewardship projects at the grass-roots level.

Resource Conservation Districts are locally governed agencies set up as special districts under California law with their own locally appointed or elected boards of directors. RCDs are authorized to undertake projects such as watershed planning and management, agricultural land conservation, recreational land restoration, irrigation management, forest stewardship, wildlife habitat enhancement and conservation education. There are 103 RCDs in the state.

"We are proud to support the work Resource Conservation Districts do at the local level,” DOC Director Darryl Young said. “RCDs are unsung heroes when it comes to protecting and enhancing watersheds around the state.”

The grants range from $9,020 to $20,000 and involve Resource Conservation Districts headquartered in Lakeport, Tehachapi, South Lake Tahoe, Woodland, Mariposa, Visalia, San Jacinto and Monterey. DOC’s Division of Land Resource Protection received 22 applications requesting nearly $315,000.

“Our districts will ensure there’s a good `bang for the buck’ out of this grant money,” said Tom Wehri, executive director of the California Association of Resource Conservation Districts. “Watersheds benefit greatly from the work of local districts, and we appreciate the state support that helps us complete our important projects.”

In addition to supporting land conservation, the Department of Conservation ensures the reclamation of land used for mining; promotes beverage container recycling; regulates oil, gas and geothermal wells; and studies and maps earthquakes and other geologic phenomena. More information about DOC programs is available online at www.conservation.ca.gov.

Following are thumbnail sketches of the projects that received grants. The RCD’s name is followed by the city in which it is headquartered and the amount of the grant. The local contact person is noted in bold type.

  • West Lake RCD/Lakeport ($17,600) – The district will construct a fuel break in the Upper Cache Creek Watershed to reduce the risk of wildfires and the subsequent sedimentation that would flow into Clear Lake. In addition, the RCD will develop a presentation for local community groups that highlights and emphasizes the dangers posed by fires. Local contact: Greg Dills, (707) 263-4180.
     

  • Tehachapi RCD/Tehachapi ($16,203) – The RCD will expand its Yellow Starthistle Spray and Manual Removal Program from simply controlling the noxious weed to actually eradicating it from the district. Also, the district will continue to build public support and participation through outreach, educational activities, and workshops. Yellow Starthistle is a non-native weed that negatively effects most wildlife habitat and is toxic to some animals. Local contact: Edward Duggan, (661) 822-6835.
     

  • Tahoe RCD/South Lake Tahoe ($15,277) – The district will promote backyard conservation and implementation of Best Management Practices (BMP) for local homeowners through education, outreach, and technical assistance. The RCD will conduct four public workshops that emphasize BMPs on residential properties. In addition, the program will provide resources to residents to implement the practices demonstrated during the workshop. Local contact: Kim Melody, (530) 573-2769.
     

  • Yolo County RCD/Woodland ($12,705) – The RCD will implement a roadside vegetation management program designed to eliminate noxious weeds and non-native plants. It will plant native grasses along roads throughout Yolo County to filter runoff, suppress weeds, and anchor soil. In addition, the RCD will expand its Know Your Natives guide to include additional plants, many of which are found along roadsides. Local contact: Paul Robins, (530) 662-2037.
     

  • Mariposa County RCD/Mariposa ($12,300) – The district plans to eradicate Yellow Starthistle along a stretch of the Merced River using manual removal techniques because of the sensitive nature of the area. The section of the river includes many rare plants and species. In addition, hikers, wildflower enthusiasts, kayakers, and fishermen use the area. Local contact: Holly Warner, (209) 966-3431.
     

  • Monterey County RCD/Monterey ($20,000) – The RCD will establish a cost-share program for local landowners. The district will provide materials, labor, and technical expertise for projects that reduce non-point source pollution and improve the quality of water leaving farms. The program will be designed to complement the services being offered by the federal government. Local contact: Emily Hanson, (831) 424-1036.
     

  • Tulare County RCD/Visalia ($9,020) – The district plans to develop a program to eradicate Arundo Donax infestations along the upper Kaweah River. The RCD will coordinate the removal of the plant and ensure that subsequent follow-up monitoring is performed. It will also establish an outreach program using a mobile display unit to educate local residents about how to identify noxious weeds and which eradication methods are most effective. Local contact: David Witt, (559) 732-9163.
     

  • San Jacinto Basin RCD/San Jacinto ($16,895) – The RCD will expand its custom irrigation scheduling service. The district’s PRISM program is a computerized irrigation scheduling program that provides grape growers with critical information to improve the irrigation process. A new program component will allow farmers to reduce water use while boosting irrigation efficiency. Effective irrigation strengthens plants against Pierce Disease, which is transmitted by the Glassy Winged Sharpshooter. Local contact: Jim Gilmore, (909) 654-7733.

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