Friday, January 18, 2019
cattle grazing on rangeland

Rangeland, Grazing Land and Grassland Protection Program

Rangeland, Grazing Land and Grassland Protection Act of 2002


In September of 2002, Chapter 984, Statutes of 2002, enacted the Rangeland, Grazing Land and Grassland Protection Act of 2002. The Act designated the Wildlife Conservation Board (WCB) as the lead agency for carrying out the California Rangeland, Grazing Land and Grassland Protection Program. The purpose of the program is to protect California's rangeland, grazing land and grassland through the use of conservation easements.

Almost all funding available for this program has been allocated. Before completing an application please contact John Walsh at (916) 322-9461.

Purpose and Authority

Pursuant to the provisions of Section 10332, the purpose of the program is to accomplish the following:

  1. To prevent the conversion of rangeland, grazing land and grassland to nonagricultural uses.
  2. To protect the long-term sustainability of livestock grazing.
  3. To ensure continued wildlife, water quality, watershed and open-space benefits to the State of California from livestock grazing.


To achieve the objectives of the California Rangeland, Grazing Land and Grassland Protection Program, the following terms have the following meaning:

"Agricultural Intensification" a collective term for converting rangeland, grazing land or grassland for more intensive agricultural use.

"Board" means the Wildlife Conservation Board.

"Compatible Uses" means the following:

  1. Compatible uses will not displace or compromise the rangeland, grazing land, grassland, wildlife, water quality, watershed or open space benefits that occur from livestock grazing. Compatible uses sustain and do not convert or displace land to other uses.
  2. Compatible uses contribute toward the long-term economic viability of the property. Further, the activity will not conflict with or impair agricultural uses on adjacent land.
  3. Compatible uses reflect activities that integrate and complement the rangeland, grassland and grazing use of the land and enhance the financial operation of the property. For example, such activities could include a bed and breakfast or dude ranch promoting the scenic, historical and cultural attributes of grazing operations. While such uses promote the value and beauty of the open space and surrounding natural resource conditions of the property, the activity should not compromise the carrying capacity for owner-operated grazing as the primary land use.
    • Other compatible uses could include forage production, recreational or commercial hunting/fishing operations, wildlife viewing or other non-consumptive uses of the resource.
    • Innovative compatible use activities address the external and internal components of sustainability.
  4. Compatible uses will not diminish, devalue or result in the removal of adjacent land from agricultural production. Agricultural intensification such as orchards or vineyards, shall not exceed 5 percent of the easement area. For the purposes of the Act, existing lands used for haying and livestock fodder production shall be considered grazing lands and not agricultural intensification. All grazing, haying, livestock fodder production and agricultural intensification shall be conducted in a sustainable manner.
  5. Areas available for agricultural intensification shall be specifically identified in the conservation easement. Agricultural intensification shall generally be limited to those areas that have been previously farmed, will not significantly impair the conservation values and will not significantly displace livestock carrying capacity.

"Conservation Easement" means a conservation easement, as defined by Section 815.1 of the Civil Code that is perpetual.

"Environmental Conditions" means a hazardous substance or other condition that would create hazards and/or liabilities for the landowner, such as, but not limited to, asbestos, formaldehyde, radon gas, lead-based paint, mold, fuel or chemical storage tanks, contaminated soil or water.

"Grassland" means land on which the vegetation is dominated by grasses, grass like plants and/or forbs.

"Grazing Land" (1) a collective term for rangeland, pastureland, grazing forest land, native and naturalized pasture, hayland, and grazed cropland. Although grazing is generally a predominate use, the term is used independent of any use. (2) Land is used primarily for production of forage plants maintained or manipulated primarily through grazing management. Includes all land having plants harvestable by grazing without reference to land tenure, other land uses or management practices.

"Local Public Agency" means any city, county, city and county, resource conservation district, special district, joint powers authority made up of two or more local public agencies and one or more state agencies.

"Nonprofit organization" means any nonprofit public benefit corporation formed pursuant to the Nonprofit Corporation Law (Division 2 (commencing with Section 5000) of Title 1 of the Corporations Code), qualified to do business in California, and qualified under Section 501 (c) (3) of Title 26 of the Internal Revenue Code as a tax-exempt corporation that has as a principle purpose the conservation of land and water resources.

"Productivity" means quantitative measure/acreassessment. Average annual forage production/acre as expressed in weight.

"Property" means any real property and any perpetual interest therein, including land, conservation easements, and land containing water rights.

"Qualified property" means property that is rangeland, grazing land or grassland, and is used or is suitable for grazing; is zoned for agriculture, or open-space use; and is used or suitable for habitat for aquatic or terrestrial wildlife species or native plants.

"Rangeland" means land on which the historic climax plant community is predominantly grasses, grass like plants, forbs, or shrubs. Includes land re-vegetated naturally or artificially when routine management of that vegetation is accomplished mainly through manipulation of grazing. Rangeland includes native or naturalized grasslands, savanna, shrub lands, most deserts, alpine communities, coastal marshes and wet meadows.

"State Agency" means any public entity created by statue within the California State Resources Agency.

"Sustainability" means the ability to keep and maintain the rangelands, grazing operation and grasslands in production.

Minimum Program Requirements

Projects must protect the integrity of the rangeland, grazing lands and grasslands. Applicants interested in obtaining an easement on more intensified agricultural areas are encouraged to contact the Department of Conservation (DOC), California Farmland Conservancy Program. The WCB will assist applicants interested in obtaining funding information from the different agricultural protection programs.

Innovative compatible use activities address the external and internal components of sustainability.

The WCB encourages projects to be developed with partners attempting to address regional landscape issues. A partnership approach brings to the project a diversity of skills, expertise, ideas and sometimes-even money that may not otherwise be available to complete a desired project. Project proposals that contain funding partners may receive a higher priority than those applicants requesting 100 percent of the necessary funds to acquire the conservation easement.

The terms and conditions of the conservation easement must comply with the "Principles of Compatible Use".

Landowner must disclose any known or suspected environmental conditions associated with the property.

Landowner must certify the conservation easement was not, and is not, required to satisfy a condition imposed upon the landowner by any lease, permit, license, certificate, or other entitlement for use issued by one or more public agencies, including, but not limited to, the mitigation of significant effects on the environment of a project pursuant to an approved environmental impact report or mitigated negative declaration.

Landowners must certify the proposed use is consistent with local land use plans and zoning requirements.

Holders of mineral rights will be notified of the intent to purchase a conservation easement.

Eligible Applicants and Partners

Eligible applicants and partners include a willing landowner, a local public agency, special district, resource conservation district, joint powers authority, nonprofit organization or state agency.

Submitting Applications

Applications will be accepted on a year-round basis. To qualify for funding, applications must be submitted at least four months in advance of the scheduled Board meeting. Upon receipt of a proposed project and application, WCB will review the application for compliance with program requirements. If the proposed project meets the program requirements, is consistent with and compliments the program guidelines and selection criteria, and sufficient money exists to fund the request, the project may be scheduled for Board consideration. Applicants will be notified as to when the project will be considered by the Board.

Rangeland, Grazing Land and Grassland Protection Act of 2002 - Application Package

Prior to completing an Application please contact John Walsh at (916) 322-9461, to check on availability of program funds.

    All applications should be mailed to:

    Executive Director, Wildlife Conservation Board
    Post Office Box 944209
    Sacramento, California 94244-2090


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