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Agricultural Grants - Ecosystem Restoration on Agricultural Lands Program


Administrating Agency: Resources Agency
Bond: Proposition 84
Department Name: Wildlife Conservation Board
Bond Statute: 75055(d)(4)
Implementing Statute: Wildlife Conservation Law of 1947, Fish and Game Code, Division 2, Chapter 4.

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Under Proposition 84 the Wildlife Conservation Board (WCB) received funding for a grant program for "Assist Farmers in Integrating Agricultural Activities with Ecosystem Restoration and Wildlife Protection". The grant funds are available to public agencies and non-profit conservation groups to assist landowners in implementing conservation-based farming practices that benefit habitat and wildlife. A similar program was developed under the CALFED Bay-Delta, Ecosystem Restoration Program, called Projects that Assist Farmers in Integrating Agricultural Activities with Ecosystem Restoration. The WCB has built upon the framework of this program, expanding it into a statewide program. Since the WCB already has in place a much larger program to help fund conservation easements on agricultural properties, the California Rangeland, Grazing Land and Grassland Protection Program, the emphasis of this program is on funding restoration and development projects. Guidelines for the program were adopted by the WCB November 2007 and are now available on the WCB`s website. For ease of reference this program is now referred to on the WCB website as Ecosystem Restoration on Agricultural Lands (ERAL).

Projects selected for funding under (ERAL) 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). During implementation or construction 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.
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 10 to 25 years. The agreement also requires if the property ownership is transferred during the term of the project, constructive notice of the project is given to the new owners. 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 selected for funding under the Assisting Farmers in Integrating Agricultural Activities with Ecosystem and Restoration and Wildlife Protection 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). During implementation or construction 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. All documents are subject to examination and audit by the Wildlife Conservation Board and/or the State of California, Department of Finance during the life of the project. A final report on the project must be submitted to the WCB as an attachment to the final invoice. Any material changes in the project scope or budget will require submission and new approval by the WCB.