Conservation work in California continued in 2020 despite the variety of challenges that were presented throughout the year. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has helped farmers, ranchers, and landowners implement conservation practices amidst a difficult year. NRCS has helped to address issues of soil health, water quality, and wildlife habitat. Through various outreach initiatives and partnerships, NRCS has worked to implement aspects of the 2018 Farm Bill as well as provide disaster recovery assistance.
“With our partners, NRCS helps people help the land in the good times and the challenging times,” NRCS State Conservationist Carlos Suarez said in a news release. “I have heard stories from across California, where our team is often using innovative means to help producers meet their conservation and business goals. Additionally, we continued our efforts to streamline program delivery and to work with our USDA counterparts to best serve the needs of our customers.”
NRCS helped to developed more than 1,930 conservation plans during 2020. Co-investment of $94 million was made through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program in helping implement conservation practices on more than 400,000 acres. Conservation enhancements were also performed on 40,000 acres through the Conservation Stewardship Program. More than 18 new easements totaling 30,000 acres were enrolled into the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program. NRCS also entered into nine agreements with local sponsors in the implementation of emergency recovery measures through the Emergency Watershed Protection Program.
NRCS also launched new online resources to help simplify conservation work. The Farm Production and Conservation Business Center worked with NRCS to debut a new decision tool for landowners. The Conservation Concerns Tool allows producers to search for specific conservation solutions that can benefit their operation. The new Conservation at Work video series also provides information on how producers are achieving success with a variety of different conservation approaches.