The San Joaquin River Conservancy is a regionally governed state agency mandated to develop and implement the San Joaquin River Parkway Master Plan. Funds were specifically authorized by the voters for the Conservancy’s program in Proposition 84 as well as previous parks and resources bond acts. Bond funds for Conservancy capital outlays are appropriated in the Wildlife Conservation Board budget to be used for land acquisitions and projects at the discretion of the Conservancy governing board; therefore, both the Conservancy governing board and Wildlife Conservation Board must approve all state bond fund expenditures for the Parkway. The Conservancy governing board's meetings and project approvals are conducted in compliance with the Brown Act.
All Conservancy projects must be in conformance with the San Joaquin River Parkway Master Plan and Program Environmental Impact Report approved and certified by the Conservancy governing board in compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act in 1997. Phased development of the Parkway is presented to the State Department of Finance in a series of Five Year Capital Outlay Plans.
Land acquisitions for the San Joaquin River Parkway must be within the Conservancy’s planning jurisdiction (the San Joaquin River floodplain from Friant Dam to Highway 99). All of the lands acquired to date have been held in state ownership and managed by the Conservancy or other state agencies. The Conservancy may award funds to assist local agency and nonprofit partners in acquiring lands, where this would more effectively accomplish Parkway development and management objectives. All lands must be purchased from willing sellers at fair market value as established by independent appraisers.
Bond funds for habitat enhancement, public access and recreation projects within the Parkway may be expended directly by the Conservancy pursuant to state contracting and procurement procedures and authorities. Funds for Parkway projects may also be awarded by the Conservancy governing board to local agency and nonprofit partners.
Land acquisitions and capital improvement projects are evaluated and prioritized by interagency partners, stakeholder committees, ad hoc Board member committees, and the Conservancy governing board. Criteria used to prioritize projects include:
- Consistent with Parkway Master Plan
- Serves under-served population
- Achieves long term goals
- Promotes and demonstrates Parkway success
- Meets interagency and partner needs
- Project readiness
- Independent function
- Public demand and acceptance
- Environmental Impacts/Benefits
- Capital cost
- Potential outside funding, in-kind support
- Potential operating entity
- Potential concession operation, revenue
- Net operations costs
More information on the Conservancy and its projects may be found on the San Joaquin River Conservancy website.