The Wildlife Conservation Board's agricultural program is formally known as the Ecosystem Restoration on Agricultural Lands (ERAL) program. The intent of the ERAL program is to collaborate with the agricultural community in identifying and implementing projects that provide long-term habitat benefits for wildlife, consistent with landowner objectives, including economic sustainability, and have the potential for replication on a statewide scale.
In California, many wildlife species are dependent on privately owned agricultural lands for habitat. Agricultural lands can provide significant habitat and connectivity with protected wildlife areas.
In many cases agricultural landowners are willing to integrate wildlife habitat benefits into the management and operations of their properties but lack the capital and/or expertise to implement these practices.
ERAL Program project criteria:
- All projects must be located on privately owned, agricultural land where agriculture is a major land-use activity, and there is a willing property owner.
- All projects must provide on-site habitat benefits to wildlife.
- All projects must be durable and include a long-term management plan and agreement that ensures that habitat features will remain on the landscape for a time period commensurate with wildlife population needs (a standard agreement is at least 25 years).
Examples of eligible project activities include, but are not limited to:
- Habitat restoration and enhancement of water corridors, streams, ditches, canals, tail water and return basins and ponds on agricultural lands.
- Vegetated filler strips, hedgerows and other wildlife buffers.
- Development of wetland areas.
- Riparian and floodplain restoration.
- Fencing to protect and enhance native habitats.
- Restoration and enhancement of native grasslands.
- Agricultural habitat management activities that provide significant environmental co-benefits including water quality improvements, carbon sequestration, etc.