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AB-1608 Vibrant landscapes for California.(2017-2018)

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Date Published: 05/01/2017 09:00 PM
AB1608:v97#DOCUMENT

Amended  IN  Assembly  May 01, 2017
Amended  IN  Assembly  April 17, 2017

CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE— 2017–2018 REGULAR SESSION

Assembly Bill No. 1608


Introduced by Assembly Member Kalra
(Coauthor: Assembly Member Aguiar-Curry)

February 17, 2017


An act to add Division 10.6 (commencing with Section 12300) to the Public Resources Code, relating to environmental protection.


LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


AB 1608, as amended, Kalra. Vibrant landscapes for climate, people, and multiple benefits. California.
The California Farmland Conservancy Program Act requires the Department of Conservation to implement and administer a program to provide grants for the acquisition by specified applicants of agricultural conservation easements, as defined. The act allows an agricultural conservation easement to provide for the construction and use of structures necessary for agricultural production and marketing, additional residences for immediate family members of the landowner, and necessary housing for seasonal or full-time employees of the agricultural operation.
Existing law establishes the Agricultural Protection Planning Grant Program administered by the department to provide planning grants to improve the protection of agricultural lands and grazing lands, including oak woodlands and grasslands.
Existing law authorizes the Wildlife Conservation Board to expend moneys for the acquisition of conservation easements to protect rangeland, grazing lands, and grasslands.
This bill would require the department to develop the Vibrant Landscape Program to assist eligible applicants in the development and implementation of county and regional plans to, among other things, integrate the conservation and management of natural and working lands with other sectors to reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases and achieve other public and environmental benefits. The bill would require the department, in collaboration with the Strategic Growth Council and the State Air Resources Board, to develop guidelines and criteria for the program. The bill would establish the Vibrant Landscape Program Fund in the State Treasury and would, upon appropriation by the Legislature, authorize the department to expend moneys in the fund to implement the program.
Vote: MAJORITY   Appropriation: NO   Fiscal Committee: YES   Local Program: NO  

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


SECTION 1.

 Division 10.6 (commencing with Section 12300) is added to the Public Resources Code, to read:

DIVISION 10.6. Vibrant Landscape Landscapes for Climate, People, and Multiple Benefits California

CHAPTER  1. Findings and Declarations

12300.
 (a) The Legislature finds and declares all of the following:
(1) The state’s natural and working lands have critical roles in providing multiple benefits, including food, wood products, habitat, water quality, and climate change mitigation.
(2) Natural and working lands should be managed and conserved for the multiple benefits they provide.
(3) The state recognizes the critical role of natural and working lands in providing solutions to climate change, as identified in the Governor’s Executive Order B-30-15 and Chapter 545 of the Statutes of 2016.
(4) Natural and working lands store considerable amounts of carbon. These terrestrial ecosystems store 2,100 gigatons of carbon and they are unique as they can actively remove carbon from the atmosphere and store that carbon for long periods of time.
(5) Local governments and land managers across the state have significant influence over the maintenance and management of natural and working lands for their climate and other benefits. In spite of this, there is little guidance, and there are few tools and incentives for them to advance the conservation and management of these landscapes for climate and other benefits.
(b) It is the intent of the Legislature to create a program and fund for local governments and land managers to build partnerships in rural and urban areas across the state to develop and implement land use plans and activities to address climate change and advance other critical benefits, including food, habitat, wood products, water quality, and public health, provided by both natural and working lands.

CHAPTER  2. Definitions

12305.
 For purposes of this division, the following definitions apply:
(a) “Department” means the Department of Conservation.
(b) “Eligible applicants” means cities, counties, special districts and authorities, including open-space districts and resource conservation districts, and nonprofit organizations.
(c) “Fund” means the Vibrant Landscape Program Fund established pursuant to Section 12320.
(d) “Greenhouse gas reduction” includes the removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere through carbon sequestration as well as reduced or avoided emissions of greenhouse gases.
(e) “Greenprint” means a plan that identifies strategically planned and managed networks of natural lands and waters, working landscapes, including farmland, ranchland, and working forests, and recreational and other open spaces that conserve ecosystem values and functions, creates climate resilient communities, and is integrated into community and regional growth strategies.
(f) “Natural lands” means lands consisting of forests, grasslands, deserts, freshwater and riparian systems, wetlands, coastal and estuarine areas, watersheds, wildlands, or wildlife habitat, or lands used for recreational purposes, including parks, urban and community forests, trails, greenbelts, and other similar open-space land.
(g) “Program” means the Vibrant Landscape Program developed pursuant to Section 12310.
(h) “Working lands” means lands use used for farming, grazing, or the production of forest products.

CHAPTER  3. Vibrant Landscape Program

12310.
 (a) (1) The department shall develop the Vibrant Landscape Program to provide incentives to manage and conserve natural and working lands to address climate change and achieve other public and environmental benefits. The program shall assist eligible applicants to develop and implement county or regional plans, including county climate action plans and greenprints, across rural and urban areas, that do the following:
(A) Integrate the conservation and management of natural and working lands with other sectors to optimize the reduction of emissions of greenhouse gases and achieve other public and environmental benefits.
(B) Achieve measurable and durable reductions in the emissions of greenhouse gases.
(C) Advance the conservation of natural and working lands and associated habitat.
(D) Advance climate resilience, water quality, habitat connectivity, food production, wood products production, and other benefits.
(E) Complement a sustainable communities strategy developed pursuant to Section 65080 of the Government Code, if applicable.
(2) In awarding funds pursuant to this subdivision, the program, the department shall give preference to applications that include a county as a partner and a broad and diverse set of local partners, such as resource conservation districts, open-space districts and authorities, and nonprofit organizations.
(3) In awarding funds pursuant to the program, the department may make grant awards for plan development contingent on the implementation of one or more activities identified by the plan.
(b) (1) The To the extent funds are available, the program shall also provide funding to eligible applicants and landowners for land management and conservation activities, including land acquisitions, across the state that reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases and achieve multiple environmental benefits, including, but not limited to, agricultural viability, habitat connectivity, water quality, air quality, and climate resilience.

(2)Eligible activities include, but are not limited to, the following:

(A)Land and riparian restoration.

(B)Conservation of natural and working lands to sequester carbon and reduce emissions of greenhouse gases.

(C)Improved forest management.

(D)Urban forestry.

(E)Agricultural and rangeland management activities, including, but not limited to, nutrient management and compost applications.

(3)

(2) In awarding providing funds pursuant to this subdivision, the department shall give preference to activities that would do the following:
(A) Help implement a plan developed pursuant to subdivision (a).
(B) Help implement a plan that is consistent with the criteria adopted by the department pursuant to Section 12311.
(C) Optimize the reduction in emissions of greenhouse gases.
(D) Optimize climate resilience and additional public and environmental benefits.
(c) (1) Funding awarded pursuant to the program shall not duplicate funding from programs implemented by other state agencies on land management, conservation, or greenhouse gas reduction.
(2) The department shall provide technical assistance to an eligible applicant to identify relevant programs implemented by other state agencies or funding sources that can assist in implementation of a plan that is eligible for funding pursuant to the program.

12311.
 The department, in collaboration with the Strategic Growth Council and the State Air Resources Board, shall develop guidelines and criteria for the program.

CHAPTER  4. Fiscal Provision

12320.
 The Vibrant Landscape Program Fund is hereby established in the State Treasury. Moneys in the fund, upon appropriation by the Legislature, may be expended by the department to implement the program. Moneys from the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund established pursuant to Section 16428.8 of the Government Code and other appropriate funding sources may be deposited into the fund as authorized by the Legislature.