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Habitat Conservation Fund


Administrating Agency: Resources Agency
Bond: Proposition 1E
Department Name: Wildlife Conservation Board
Bond Statute: 5096.825
Implementing Statute:

  • Front-end
  • In-Progress
  • Follow-up
Bond Expenditure Criteria or Process: Grants and funding distributed under this section can occur through most of the acquisition and restoration programs administered by the WCB, including:

  • Land Acquisition;
  • Habitat Enhancement and Restoration;
  • California Riparian Habitat Conservation;
  • Inland Wetlands Conservation;
  • Ecosystem Restoration on Agricultural Lands.
A description of the various programs and how projects are evaluated and selected for funding can be found on the WCB web page (www.wcb.ca.gov).  In general, these programs promote the protection, restoration and enhancement of wildlife habitat. 

Projects must accomplish one or more of the following objectives: 

  • The acquisition of habitat, including native oak woodlands, necessary to protect deer and mountain lions;
  • The acquisition of habitat to protect rare, endangered, threatened, or fully protected species;
  • The acquisition of habitat to implement Habitat Conservation Programs;
  • The acquisition, enhancement or restoration of wetlands;
  • The acquisition, enhancement or restoration of aquatic and riparian habitat;
Other objectives:
  • The projects must be located in or part of a flood plain, corridor or bypass;
  • Compatible agricultural use may be allowed in conjunction with the proposed project.
Applications for restoration and enhancement projects are available on the WCB web page and can be submitted for consideration on a year-round basis.   Department of Fish and Game (DFG) review and recommendation is strongly encouraged on all projects prior to submittal of an application.

Land Acquisition grant applicants normally involve a more formal upfront review by DFG’s Regional Operations Committee (ROC) prior to submittal to WCB for consideration. This entails development of a Land Acquisition Evaluation or Conceptual Area Protection Plan reviewed by the ROC. This document serves as the basis for the funding proposal submitted to the WCB. Project proponents are encouraged to contact the DFG regional office for more information on this process.  A list and additional information is available on the WCB’s web page under the Land Acquisition Program

Once a project is evaluated and selected for funding the project can be scheduled for approval at one of four (4) WCB board meetings held each calendar year – see the WCB web page for a listing of the meeting dates. 
Proposed projects that meet the eligibility requirements and sufficiently address the selection criteria for projects eligible for funding under this category may be presented to the Wildlife Conservation Board (WCB) for funding approval at one of its four quarterly meetings. Funding must be expended according to WCB program requirements under which the proposal was presented to and approved by the WCB.

Land Acquisitions:

The WCB’s real estate procedures are conducted in accordance with the Fish and Game Code and the Government Code (Property Acquisition Law) that affects the Board’s Land Acquisition Program. The WCB works with property owners on a willing seller basis, paying fair market value as determined by appraisal reports approved by the state’s Department of General Services (DGS). In addition to analysis of the appraisal, due diligence includes the examination and interpretation of title documents, analysis of an Environmental Site Assessment, and compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act requirements. Staff of the WCB negotiates with the property owner, or their representative, the terms and conditions of the transaction and prepares necessary documents.

In addition to direct acquisitions by the State of California for management by the Department of Fish and Game, the WCB gives grants to qualified recipients including local, state and federal agencies, and non-profit organizations. Grantees must conduct land transactions with willing sellers paying fair market value as determined by a DGS approved appraisal report. The grantee is the lead for conducting due diligence and preparing acquisition documents.

The real estate transactions, and funding, for both direct acquisitions and grants, are subject to approval of the WCB at one of its quarterly meetings. Direct acquisitions for ownership by the state require subsequent approval by the DGS, and if a donation, the Department of Finance. Grants do not require DGS approval, but grant agreements require staff to review and approve all acquisition-related documents prior to disbursement of funds to escrow. Following disbursement of funds to an escrow account, final documents are received, including recorded instruments of conveyances, final policies of title insurance and final closing statements, from the title company.

In accordance with the Brown Act, staff of the WCB provides public notice of upcoming quarterly meetings to the County Board of Supervisors, adjacent property owners, the Department of Conservation (if the property is encumbered with a Williamson Act Contract), cities and counties within which a property may be located, and to others requesting notice.

Restoration, Enhancement and Development Projects

Grantees are required to spend grant funds according to the approved project scope and budget. In the case where other matching funds are being used to restore the property, verification that all other funds are available must be provided prior to the WCB issuing a “Notice to Proceed” (The “Notice to Proceed occurs after WCB approval and is the formal notice that the project is approved and can proceed according to the terms of the WCB grant). WCB staff and/or representatives, as described in the grant, will make periodic inspections of the project as needed. Payment requests must include a certification by the grantee that each expense complies with requirements outlined in the grant agreement. Grantees must also submit supporting documentation for each expense, with reimbursements approved only for eligible expenses pursuant to program guidelines and contained within the approved project budget. The WCB withholds up to ten percent of each payment request to be released upon project completion. A final report on the project must be submitted to the WCB as an attachment to the final invoice. Any material changes in project scope or budget will require submission and new approval by the WCB.

Acquisition of State Property

Following the transfer of real property to the State, staff of the Wildlife Conservation Board (WCB) notifies the Department of Fish and Game’s (DFG) Director, its regional staff responsible for on-site management, and the Department of General Services. The State is exempt from the payment of property taxes, and the County Assessor/Auditor is directed to cancel taxes. Funding contributors, if any, are notified and provided documents as required pursuant to their grants or funding instruments.

Grant Agreements

On August 17, 2006, the WCB adopted policies governing grant agreements and conservation easements. Relative to grant agreements, the policies provide, in part, the following: 
  • Grant agreements shall be consistent with the policies established by the WCB and clearly state the purposes of the conservation effort.
  • Defined purposes must articulate and be consistent with the purposes and requirements of the funding sources used to pay for the conservation effort and identify the resources and conservation values to be protected.
  • Defined purposes must also be included in the appropriate conveyance documents (deed or conservation easement).
  • Concurrent with the instrument of conveyance transferring the property to the grantee, a Notice of Unrecorded Grant Agreement giving public notice that the grantee received funds under the grant and that use of the property shall be consistent with the terms of the agreement.
  • Grantee shall provide to WCB all approved appraisals, copies of recorded documents and title policies, baseline conditions reports, transaction documents, management plans, and monitoring reports, as applicable.
  • At the request of the WCB, not less than once in any three year period, the grantee shall arrange for the WCB to access the protected property to assess compliance with the grant agreement. If the grant agreement assisted in funding the purchase of a conservation easement, the monitoring report shall document the monitoring activities in a manner that demonstrate the monitoring was conducted in accordance with the monitoring protocol approved by the WCB for the project.
  • WCB must approve the transfer of the grant agreement.
  • Whether whole or in part, conservation easements can only be extinguished through appropriate legal proceedings (e.g., eminent domain).

Restoration, Enhancement and Development Projects

All projects require a final inspection and report. The purpose is to ensure all project components are completed according to program guidelines and the terms of the grant agreement, including project scope and budget. All grantees must comply with current laws and regulations which apply to the project and submit documents summarizing total project costs and all additional funding sources.

All projects require agreements by the landowner and/or grantee to maintain the projects over their useful life. This can generally range from 20 to 25 years. This agreement requires notification be given to any subsequent owners of the property of the terms of the agreement. In most cases this requires recordation of a notice that describes the terms of the agreement and how they apply to the ownership of the property over the term of the agreement.

Projects
Arrastre Canyon
Ash Creek Wildlife Area Riparian Habitat Restoration
Canebrake Ecological Reserve, Cap Canyon Unit, Expansion 3 (Sprague Ranch)
Carson River Enhancement
Cienega Springs
Conaway Ranch Conservation Easement (Scope Change)
Cow Creek Expansion, Triple B Ranch Conservation Easement
Daugherty Hill Wildlife Area, Expansion 13
Dos Rios Ranch
Dos Rios Riparian Restoration
Eel River Peninsula
Eel River Wildlife Area Salt River Unit Wetland Restoration
Eticuera Creek Watershed Habitat Restoration
Garden Bar Preserve
Goodwin Sierra Valley Ranch Conservation Easement
Gray Lodge Wetland Enhancement and Pump Installation
Gray Lodge Wildlife Area Wetland Enhancement
Gray Lodge Wildlife Area, Water Recirculation and Wetland Restoration Project
Grizzly Island Wildlife Area, Crescent Unit Water Conveyance
Hamilton City Flood Damage Reduction and Ecosystem Restoration
Hanson El Monte Pond Restoration
Heart K. Ranch Conservation Easement
Hughes Ranch Wetland Enhancement
Hulsman (Conservation Easement)
Jamul Creek Watershed Riparian Restoration
Jamul Creek Watershed Riparian Restoration, Augmentation
Lassen Foothills CAPP, Expansion 6 (Gaumer Ranch)
Lassen Foothills Conservation Area, Expansion 8 (Lower Deer Creek Falls)
Leavitt Lake Conservation Easement
Loch Lomond Vernal Pool Ecological Reserve Exchange
Los Banos Wildlife Area, Island Wetland Enhancement
Los Vaqueros Ranch Conservation Easement, Phase II
Lower Kern River Panorama Vista Preserve Riparian Restoration
Lower Owens River Basin Saltcedar Control, Phase II
Lower Redwood Creek Restoration Phase II
Lower Sonoma Creek Wetland Enhancement
Lower Yuba - Excelsior Phase I
Matilija - Epstein North
Millard Canyon (Altadena Foothill CAPP)
North Coast Non-native Invasive Weed Eradication
North Grasslands Wildlife Area Gadwall Unit Wetland Restoration, Phase II
North Grasslands Wildlife Area Wetland Restoration
North San Diego County Coastal Wetlands Invasive Species Management
Otay River Delta Riparian Habitat Restoration
Pajaro Valley Wetlands Enhancement aka Watsonville Habitat Restoration
Palisades Ranch, Mojave River
Palo Verde Ecological Reserve, Expansion 3
Quiota Creek Fish Passage
Quiota Creek Fish Passage Phase II
Rancho Caleta
Red Bank Creek Riparian Restoration
Robin's Nest
Rubio Canyon (Altadena Foothills Conservation Corridor CAPP)
Sacramento River National Wildlife Refuge - Jensen Unit Riparian Restoration
Sacramento River National Wildlife Refuge, Codora Unit, Riparian Restoration, CEQA
Sacramento River National Wildlife Refuge, La Barranca Unit, Riparian Restoration
Sacramento River National Wildlife Refuge, La Barranca Unit, Riparian Restoration, Phase II
Sacramento River Riparian Restoration Planning, Rancho Breisgau and Jelly's Ferry
Salinas River Riparian Enhancement
Salt River Wetland Restoration
San Diego River, (Walker)
San Dieguito River Riparian Habitat Restoration
San Dieguito River Riparian Habitat Restoration, Augmentation
San Joaquin River, Hidden Valley Ranch
Santa Cruz Integrated Watershed Restoration, Phase II
Santa Rosa Creek Ferrasci Road Fish Passage
Santiago Creek Riparian Restoration
Shasta River Fish Passage
South Central Coast Invasive Weed Eradication
Upper Butte Basin Wildlife Area Engineering Study
Upper Butte Basin Wildlife Area, Expansion 6. AKA Wetland Conservation Easement Program, Cherokee Farms, Expansion 1
Upper Butte Basin Wildlife Area, Expansion 7
Upper Butte Basin Wildlife Area- Little Dry Creek Habitat Restoration
Upper Shasta River Flow Enhancement Planning
Western Riverside MSHCP (2012) - Riverpark
Willow Bend
Willow Creek Ranch Water Distribution Improvements
Willow Creek Wildlife Area Meadow Enhancement