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AB-472 Water transfers: idled agricultural land: wildlife, waterfowl, and bird nesting habitat.(2017-2018)

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Date Published: 02/13/2017 02:00 PM
AB472:v99#DOCUMENT


CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE— 2017–2018 REGULAR SESSION

Assembly Bill No. 472


Introduced by Assembly Member Frazier

February 13, 2017


An act to amend Section 1018 of the Water Code, relating to water.


LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


AB 472, as introduced, Frazier. Water transfers: idled agricultural land: wildlife, waterfowl, and bird nesting habitat.
Existing law establishes the Department of Water Resources in state government and prescribes the functions and duties of the department with regard to the regulation of water resources including water transfers throughout the state. Existing law requires landowners to be encouraged, when agricultural lands are being idled in order to provide water for transfer and an amount of water is determined to be made available by that idling, to cultivate or retain nonirrigated cover crops or natural vegetation to provide waterfowl, upland game bird, and other wildlife habitat.
This bill would require the department to establish an incentive program, which may include grants or other financial incentives, for landowners who voluntarily cultivate or retain nonirrigated cover crops or natural vegetation on idled agricultural lands to provide waterfowl, upland game bird, and other wildlife habitat, and would require that the program meet certain requirements. The bill would require that the department consult with the Department of Fish and Wildlife and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service prior to developing the incentive program, to determine the best ways of protecting wildlife habitat on idled agricultural lands.
Vote: MAJORITY   Appropriation: NO   Fiscal Committee: YES   Local Program: NO  

The people of the State of California do enact as follows:


SECTION 1.

 Section 1018 of the Water Code is amended to read:

1018.
 (a) When agricultural lands are being idled in order to provide water for transfer pursuant to this division, and an amount of water is determined to be made available by that idling, landowners shall be encouraged to cultivate or retain nonirrigated cover crops or natural vegetation to provide waterfowl, upland game bird, and other wildlife habitat, provided that all other water transfer requirements are met.
(b) The department shall establish an incentive program, which may include grants or other financial incentives, for landowners who voluntarily cultivate or retain nonirrigated cover crops or natural vegetation to remain on idled agricultural lands to provide waterfowl, upland game bird, and other wildlife habitat, as described in subdivision (a).
(c) The incentive program required to be established under subdivision (b) shall meet all of the following requirements:
(1) Ensure that any landowner who participates in the program complies with any standards prescribed by the department regarding the removal of nonirrigated crops or natural vegetation in order to minimize any harm to any other landowner.
(2) Prohibit a landowner who participates in the program from engaging in practices such as discing, spraying of herbicides, mowing, chipping, or rolling any vegetation on those idled lands until after July 15 of each year when the waterfowl and bird nesting season ends.
(3) Employ licensed professionals such as biologists or other wildlife experts to monitor nesting bird activity and salvage eggs prior to permitting the removal of any nonirrigated cover crops or natural vegetation on any lands covered under the incentive program.
(4) Ensure that any determination regarding the removal of nonirrigated crops or natural vegetation is supported by credible scientific data, including peer reviewed scientific studies.
(d) The department shall consult with the Department of Fish and Wildlife and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service prior to developing the incentive program to determine the best ways to protect wildlife habitat on idled agricultural lands.