September 2, 2011--California watershed program to pay farmers, ranchers, foresters (Ag Journal)

Sustainable Conservation, in partnership with Environmental Defense Fund, Environmental Incentives, Protected Harvest and the Sierra Nevada Conservancy, has been awarded a $372,000 Conservation Innovation Grant (CIG) from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to develop a pilot program to measure environmental benefits in California’s Mokelumne River Watershed. The program will attract funding to pay farmers, ranchers and foresters to enhance nature’s benefits, including water purification, erosion control and wildlife habitat. “Typically farmers and ranchers are paid to grow crops and raise livestock,” said Ashley Boren, Executive Director of Sustainable Conservation. “But many of these individuals who manage their land responsibly provide important services that benefit nature and human well-being. We need to create ways to pay farmers and ranchers for these services.” The pilot program will develop uniform standards and payment mechanisms that allow private utilities, government agencies, communities, foundations and nonprofits to pay landowners and land managers to enhance and manage their land in ways that benefit people and the environment.

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