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Conservancy Program

Administrating Agency: Resources Agency
Bond: Proposition 1E
Department Name: State Coastal Conservancy
Bond Statute: 5096.825
Implementing Statute:

  • Front-end
  • In-Progress
  • Follow-up

The Conservancy will disburse funds to specific projects through a process that begins with Conservancy staff working with its partners (public agencies of all levels and nongovernmental organizations) to develop projects that will carry out the Conservancy’s statutory mission. Conservancy staff uses a number of established planning processes, including the Coastal Plan of 1976, local coastal programs, the implementation programs of the North Coast and San Francisco Bay Joint Ventures, the Implementation Strategy of the Southern California Wetland Recovery Project, the Salmon Recovery Program, and the planning work of the San Francisco Bay Open Space Council, to direct project development.

Before project phases are brought forward for funding they will be screened by the Conservancy staff to be consistent with the Conservancy’s Statutory Authorities contained in the Conservancy’s enabling legislation, Strategic Plan and Project Selection Criteria. Consistent with the provisions of Bond Act Section 5096.825, the Conservancy could potentially use the 1E funds to acquire rights-of-way for flood corridors, conserve agricultural land and wildlife habitat, and relocating development in flood-prone areas.

State Coastal Conservancy Statutory Authorities

Conservancy projects are carried out pursuant to the following statutory authorities contained in the Conservancy’s enabling legislation Division 21 of the Public Resources Code. Projects undertaken by the Conservancy with 1E funds for the conservation of fish and wildlife habitat are likely to be carried out pursuant to one or more of the following authorities:

Natural Resource Restoration and Enhancement (reference: Public Resources Code Sections 31053, 31251, 31251.2):

The Coastal Conservancy is authorized to undertake projects to enhance coastal resources that, because of indiscriminate dredging and filling, improper location of improvements, natural or human-induced events, or incompatible land uses, have suffered loss of natural or scenic values. Under this authority, the Conservancy preserves and increases fish and wildlife habitat and other resource values through public actions including acquisition of resource areas, restoration of degraded sites, and avoidance of incompatible uses.

Integrated Coastal and Marine Resources Protection (reference: Public Resources Code Section 31220):

In order to improve and protect coastal and marine water quality and habitats, the Conservancy is authorized to undertake projects that protect and restore coastal watersheds and coastal and marine habitats. The Conservancy may undertake projects directly or may award grants for these purposes in consultation with the State Water Resources Control Board and regional water quality control boards.

Acquisition of Significant Coastal Sites (reference: Public Resources Code Sections 31350, 31351):

In cooperation with local governments, nonprofit organizations and other State agencies, the Coastal Conservancy assures that threatened coastal resource lands are identified and protected in a timely manner.

Planning and Feasibility Studies(reference: Public Resources Code Section 31111):

In implementing Division 21 programs and projects as described above, the Conservancy may undertake plans and feasibility studies and may award grants to public agencies and nonprofit organizations for these purposes.

State Coastal Conservancy Strategic Plan

The Strategic Plan ( ) was prepared pursuant to the direction and guidelines provided by the Department of Finance in Management Memo 96-23 (8/9/96) and Budget Letter 96-16 (9/23/96). The Conservancy conducted public hearings and reviewed preliminary drafts on March 8, 2007 and May 24, 2007, and reviewed a final draft at a public hearing on July 16, 2007. The Strategic Plan was approved by the Coastal Conservancy at a public hearing on September 20, 2007 for transmittal to the Resources Agency and the Governor’s Office.

The document describes current and historic resource allocation by the Conservancy, public needs served by the agency, policies and principles guiding the Conservancy and its staff, and the intended and recommended future course of the agency’s efforts. For strategic planning purposes, the Conservancy`s eleven statutory areas are grouped into four program areas:

  • Public Access
  • Coastal Resource Conservation
  • The San Francisco Bay Area Conservancy Program
  • Ocean Protection Council

For each program area, there is a description of the pertinent statutory authorities, followed by the issues and the Conservancy’s priorities for the program. This is followed by specific programs goals and objectives, strategies to meet the objective, expected outcome measures, and a breakout of how the overall objective will be met within the Conservancy’s four administrative geographic regions:

  • North Coast (Del Norte through coastal Marin counties)
  • San Francisco Bay Area Conservancy (nine Bay Area counties)
  • Central Coast (coastal San Mateo through Santa Barbara)
  • South Coast (Ventura through San Diego counties)

The Strategic Plan is a `living` document, intended for reference in the course of conducting the daily activities of the Conservancy, and it will be subject to an annual formal evaluation, and updating within five years.

State Coastal Conservancy Project Selection Criteria

These criteria ensure that the projects proposed for funding are consistent with the Conservancy’s enabling legislation, are of regional or statewide value, are consistent with the purposes of the available funding source, are needed and ready to implement and are leveraged by other funds if possible. The project selection guidelines are as follows:

Key Criteria Required by the Conservancy

  • Promotion of the Conservancy`s statutory programs and purposes
  • Consistency with purposes of the funding source
  • Support from the public
  • Location (must benefit coastal resources or the San Francisco Bay region)
  • Need (desired project or result will not occur without Conservancy participation)
  • Greater-than-local interest

Additional Conservancy Adopted criteria

  • Urgency (threat to a coastal resource from development or natural or economic conditions; pressing need; or a fleeting opportunity)
  • Resolution of more than one issue
  • Leverage (contribution of funds or services by other entities)
  • Conflict resolution
  • Innovation (for example, environmental or economic demonstration)
  • Readiness (ability of the grantee and others to start and finish the project timely)
  • Realization of prior Conservancy goals (advances previous Conservancy projects)
  • Return to Conservancy (funds will be repaid to the Conservancy, consistent with the Conservancy`s long-term financial strategy)
  • Cooperation (extent to which the public, nonprofit groups, landowners, and others will contribute to the project)

After staff have completed screening of project proposals to ensure consistency with the Conservancy’s Statutory Authorities contained in the Conservancy’s enabling legislation, Strategic Plan and Project Selection Criteria, projects are brought forward for authorization by the Coastal Conservancy at public meetings held approximately six times per year. Conservancy staff will post a list of all projects authorized for implementation using funds from Proposition 1E on the appropriate section of the Statewide Bond Accountability website no less frequently than quarterly.


Authorized funds are disbursed pursuant to contractual agreements with the implementing agency or organization. Grantees or contractors must provide the Conservancy with a detailed scope of work, budget and schedule for the project prior to initiating any work. The Conservancy disburses grant funds for completed work upon approval of the Grantee`s request for disbursement and supporting documentation. Conservancy project managers approve payment of funds only after assuring that all requested expenses are for work that has been satisfactorily completed pursuant to the project scope of work and budget, and that the grantee or contractor is in compliance with all the terms and conditions of the grant agreement or contract. Funds may be disbursed as progress payments, billed monthly or upon completion of individual tasks, or upon completion of the entire project. The Conservancy withholds ten percent of all progress payments to be released only upon satisfactory completion of the project.

Grant funds disbursed for the acquisition of real property are deposited directly into an escrow established for the transaction upon Conservancy staff`s review and approval of all sale and title documents.

The sources of funds encumbered by contracts and grant agreements are identified in the contract documents. Amounts expended are documented by the Conservancy’s Contracts and Accounting units. Commitments and expenditures made from different bond act sections are tracked by the Conservancy`s budget officer, together with the Statewide Bond Unit operated within the Department of Parks and Recreation.

All commitments of funds from the bond are reported by bond act section on the Statewide Bond Accountability website upon authorization by the Coastal Conservancy or the Conservancy`s Executive Officer. The conservancy reports authorized funds for posting on the website no less frequently than quarterly. Project status (`planning,` `in-progress` or `completed`) can also be tracked through the Bond Accountability website.

Prior to approving the final grant payment, Conservancy staff conducts a project completion audit. This process includes review and approval of the final work product, a site visit and inspection where appropriate, and a review of the contract and project files to assure that all required documentation is in place.

For projects involving construction, including environmental restoration and enhancement, the grantee must provide the Conservancy with an inspection report by a licensed architect or registered engineer or the grantee’s Public Works Director certifying completion of the project according to the approved work program, and with `as built` drawings or photographs of the completed project. The grantee must also agree to manage and maintain the improvements consistent with the purposes of the awarded grant funds for an appropriate period of time, generally not less than twenty years.

For projects consisting of the acquisition of fee title to real property, the grantee must record an Irrevocable Offer to Dedicate Title in Fee, deed restriction, or other legal instrument that serves to permanently dedicate the property for the acquisition purposes. Such instruments run with the land and are binding on the grantee’s successors in interest. These instruments also contain a provision that enables the Conservancy or its designee to assume title to the property should the grantee cease to exist or violate the conditions of the grant agreement. These instruments provide the Conservancy with the ability to ensure that the property continues to be used for the acquisition purposes in perpetuity.

For projects consisting of the acquisition of easements, the easement must contain provisions that serve to ensure that the property is permanently dedicated to the acquisition purposes and is managed and operated in a manner consistent with those purposes. The Conservancy also requires that the grantee monitor the real property at least once a year to ensure compliance with the conservation easement, and submit a monitoring report to the Conservancy. Provisions of the easement ensure that should the grantee cease to exist or violate the conditions of the grant agreement, the Conservancy or its designee have the ability to assume title to the easement.

No property interests, whether fee title or easements, acquired with bond funds may be used as security for debt or transferred to another owner without the prior approval of the Conservancy.

The Conservancy reports biannually all encumbrances and actual expenditures made from each bond fund to the Statewide Bond Unit, which determines the balances remaining in each fund by bond section. The Statewide Bond Unit collects encumbrance and expenditure reports from all Resources Agency departments and submits them to the Department of Finance.

The Conservancy`s programs are subject to audit by the Department of Finance, Office of State Audits and Evaluations. The audits are conducted to determine whether bond funds were awarded and expended in compliance with applicable legal requirements and established criteria, and to determine if adequate project monitoring processes are in place. In accordance with the Administration`s policy of increased transparency, audit reports are published on the Department of Finance`s Web site: .