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California Oak Woodlands Conservation – California Globe

California has a number of formal acts in statute. Fish and Game Code Division 2, Chapter 4, Article 3.5 provides the Oak Woodlands Conservation Act, which is contained in Section 1360 to 1372. Article 3.5 was added in 2001 by Chapter 588. Section 1360 names the Act.

Section 1361 provides definitions for the following terms: “board”; “conservation easement”; “fund”; “land improvement”; “local government entity”; “nonprofit organization”; “oak”; “oak woodlands”; “oak woodlands management plan”; and, “special oak woodlands habitat elements.”

Section 1362 provides six legislative findings and declarations, including that the Legislature intended to provide incentives to protect and encourage farming and ranching operations that are operated in a manner that protects and promotes healthy oak woodlands, as well as to establish a fund for oak woodlands conservation, to which future appropriations for oak woodlands protection may be made, and specify grant making guidelines.

Section 1363 created the Oak Woodlands Conservation Fund in the State Treasury. The fund is administered by the board. Moneys in the fund may be expended, upon appropriation by the Legislature, for the purposes of this article. In addition, the board may use money designated for the preservation and restoration of oak woodlands in the Oak Woodlands Conservation Fund for projects in conjunction with the California Forest Legacy Program.

Section 1364 requires moneys in the fund to be available to local government entities, park and open-space districts, resource conservation districts, private landowners, and nonprofit organizations. Section 1365 requires the board to develop and adopt guidelines and criteria for awarding grants that achieve the greatest lasting conservation of oak woodlands.

Section 1366 provides that, to qualify for a grant pursuant to this article, the county or city in which the grant money would be spent is required to prepare, or demonstrate that it has already prepared, an oak woodlands management plan that includes a description of all native oak species located within the county’s or city’s jurisdiction.

To qualify for a grant pursuant to this article, the board is required to make a certification related to any proposed easement. The applicant must demonstrate that its proposal provides protection of oak woodlands that is more protective than the applicable provisions of law in existence on the date of the proposal. In addition, a county or city may develop an oak woodlands management plan.

Section 1367 required the board and the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection to develop a memorandum of understanding regarding the protection of oak woodlands that complies with specified criteria.

Section 1368 prohibits the board from approving a grant to a local government entity, park and open-space district, resource conservation district, or nonprofit organization if the entity requesting the grant has acquired, or proposes to acquire, an oak woodlands conservation easement through the use of eminent domain, unless the owner of the affected lands requests the owner to do so.

Section 1369 authorizes a city or county planning department to utilize a grant awarded for the purposes of this article to consult with a citizen advisory committee and appropriate natural resource specialists in order to report publicly to the city council or the board of supervisors on the status of the city’s or county’s oak woodlands.

Section 1370 provides that no money may be expended from the fund to adopt guidelines or to administer the fund until at least $1,000,000 is deposited in the fund. Section 1372 specifies that nothing in this article grants any new authority to the board or any other agency, office, or department to affect local policy or land use decision-making.

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