Article 3.5. Oak Woodlands Conservation Act of California Fish And Game Code >> Division 2. >> Chapter 4. >> Article 3.5.
This article shall be known, and may be cited, as the Oak
Woodlands Conservation Act.
For purposes of this article, the following terms have the
(a) "Board" means the Wildlife Conservation Board established
pursuant to Section 1320.
(b) "Conservation easement" means a conservation easement, as
defined in Section 815.1 of the Civil Code.
(c) "Fund" means the Oak Woodlands Conservation Fund.
(d) "Land improvement" means restoration or enhancement of
biologically functional oak woodlands habitat.
(e) "Local government entity" means any city, county, city and
county, district, or other local government entity, if the entity is
otherwise authorized to acquire and hold title to real property.
(f) "Nonprofit organization" means a tax-exempt nonprofit
organization that meets the requirements of subdivision (a) of
Section 815.3 of the Civil Code.
(g) "Oak" means any species in the genus Quercus.
(h) "Oak woodlands" means an oak stand with a greater than 10
percent canopy cover or that may have historically supported greater
than 10 percent canopy cover.
(i) "Oak woodlands management plan" means a plan that provides
protection for oak woodlands over time and compensates private
landowners for conserving oak woodlands.
(j) "Special oak woodlands habitat elements" means multi- and
single-layered canopy, riparian zones, cavity trees, snags, and
downed woody debris.
It is the intent of the Legislature that this article
accomplish all of the following:
(a) Support and encourage voluntary, long-term private stewardship
and conservation of California's oak woodlands by offering
landowners financial incentives to protect and promote biologically
functional oak woodlands over time.
(b) Provide incentives to protect and encourage farming and
ranching operations that are operated in a manner that protects and
promotes healthy oak woodlands.
(c) Provide incentives for the protection of oak trees providing
superior wildlife values on private lands.
(d) Encourage local land use planning that is consistent with the
preservation of oak woodlands, particularly special oak woodlands
(e) Provide guidelines for spending the funds allocated for oak
woodlands pursuant to the Safe Neighborhood Parks, Clean Water, Clean
Air, and Coastal Protection Bond Act of 2000 (the
Villaraigosa-Keeley Act (Chapter 1.692 (commencing with Section
5096.300) of Division 5 of the Public Resources Code)).
(f) Establish a fund for oak woodlands conservation, to which
future appropriations for oak woodlands protection may be made, and
specify grant making guidelines.
(a) The Oak Woodlands Conservation Fund is hereby created in
the State Treasury. The fund shall be administered by the board.
Moneys in the fund may be expended, upon appropriation by the
Legislature, for the purposes of this article.
(b) Money may be deposited into the fund from gifts, donations,
funds appropriated by the Legislature for the purposes of this
article, or from federal grants or loans or other sources, and shall
be used for the purpose of implementing this article, including
administrative costs. Funds from the Safe Neighborhood Parks, Clean
Water, Clean Air, and Coastal Protection Bond Act of 2000 (the
Villaraigosa-Keeley Act (Chapter 1.692 (commencing with Section
5096.300) of Division 5 of the Public Resources Code)), but not
including funds dedicated as matching funds for the federal Forest
Legacy Program, shall be deposited in the fund.
(c) To the extent consistent with the Safe Neighborhood Parks,
Clean Water, Clean Air, and Coastal Protection Bond Act of 2000 (the
Villaraigosa-Keeley Act (Chapter 1.692 (commencing with Section
5096.300) of Division 5 of the Public Resources Code)), 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 (Div. 10.5
(commencing with Sec. 12200) of the P.R.C.)), but only for the
purposes specified in this article and only if the following
requirements are met:
(1) The Department of Forestry and Fire Protection shall make an
initial recommendation to the board.
(2) The board may deny any initial recommendation to the
Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. Subsequently, if the
department alters an initial proposal, in a manner that the board
determines to be significant, the board may withdraw its initial
approval of the recommendation at any time during the process.
(d) The purposes for which moneys in the fund may be used include
all of the following:
(1) Grants for the purchase of oak woodlands conservation
easements. Any entity authorized to hold a conservation easement
under Section 815.3 of the Civil Code may hold a conservation
easement pursuant to this article. The holder of the conservation
easement shall ensure, on an annual basis, that the conservation
easement conditions have been met for that year.
(2) Grants for land improvement.
(3) Cost-sharing incentive payments to private landowners who
enter into long-term conservation agreements. An agreement shall
include management practices that benefit oak woodlands and promote
the economic sustainability of farming and ranching operations.
(4) Public education and outreach by local government entities,
park and open-space districts, resource conservation districts, and
nonprofit organizations. The public education and outreach shall
identify and communicate the social, economic, agricultural, and
biological benefits of strategies to conserve oak woodlands habitat
values, including watershed protection benefits that reduce soil
erosion, increase streamflows, and increase water retention and
sustainable agricultural operations.
(5) Assistance to local government entities, park and open-space
districts, resource conservation districts, and nonprofit
organizations for the development and implementation of oak
conservation elements in local general plans.
(6) Technical assistance consistent with the purpose of preserving
(e) Not more than 20 percent of all grants made by the board
pursuant to this article may be used for the purposes described in
paragraphs (4), (5), and (6) of subdivision (d). Not less than 80
percent of funds available for grants pursuant to this article shall
be expended for the purposes described in paragraphs (1), (2), and
(3) of subdivision (d).
(f) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, this article
governs the expenditure of funds for the preservation of oak
woodlands pursuant to paragraph (4) of subdivision (a) of Section
5096.350 of the Public Resources Code.
Moneys in the fund shall be available to local government
entities, park and open-space districts, resource conservation
districts, private landowners, and nonprofit organizations for the
purposes set forth in subdivision (d) of Section 1363.
The board shall develop and adopt guidelines and criteria for
awarding grants that achieve the greatest lasting conservation of
oak woodlands. The board shall develop these guidelines in
consultation with the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, the
Department of Food and Agriculture, the University of California's
Integrated Hardwood Range Management Program, conservation groups,
and farming and ranching associations. As it applies to the award of
grants for the implementation of this article, the board criteria
shall specify that easement acquisitions that are the most
cost-effective in comparison to the actual resource value of the
easement shall be given priority.
(a) To qualify for a grant pursuant to this article, the
county or city in which the grant money would be spent shall 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.
(b) To qualify for a grant pursuant to this article, the board
shall certify that any proposed easement was not, and is not,
required to satisfy a condition imposed upon the landowner by any
lease, permit, license, certificate, or other entitlement for use
issued by one or more public agencies, including, but not limited to,
the mitigation of significant effects on the environment of a
project pursuant to an approved environmental impact report or to
mitigate a negative declaration required pursuant to the California
Environmental Quality Act (Division 13 (commencing with Section
21000)) of the Public Resources Code.
(c) To qualify for a grant under this article, the applicant shall
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.
(d) A county or city may develop an oak woodlands management plan.
A nonprofit corporation, park and open-space district, resource
conservation district, or other local government entity may apply to
the board for funds to develop an oak woodlands management plan for a
county or city, but the county or city shall maintain ultimate
authority to approve the oak woodlands management plan.
(e) The process for developing an initial oak woodlands management
plan, and the adoption of significant amendments to a plan, as
determined by the county or city, are subject to the Ralph M. Brown
Act (Chapter 9 (commencing with Section 54950) of Part 1 of Division
2 of Title 5 of the Government Code).
(f) A proposal by a local government entity, nonprofit
corporation, park and open-space district, private landowner, or
resource conservation district for a grant to be expended for the
purposes of this article shall be certified by the county or city as
being consistent with the oak woodlands management plan of the county
or city. If the land covered by the proposal is in the jurisdiction
of more than one county or city, each county or city shall certify
that the proposal is consistent with the oak woodlands management
plan of each county or city.
(g) If two or more entities seek grant funding from the board
pursuant to this article for the same jurisdiction, the county or
city shall designate which entity shall lead the efforts to manage
oak woodlands habitat in the area.
On or before April 1, 2002, the board and the Department of
Forestry and Fire Protection shall develop a memorandum of
understanding regarding the protection of oak woodlands that does all
of the following:
(a) If necessary, creates a specific process for working together
to use money from the fund in conjunction with the California Forest
Legacy Program Act of 2000 (Division 10.5 (commencing with Section
12200) of the Public Resources Code).
(b) Lists elements a county or city shall include in its oak
woodlands management plan. Items included in the plan shall assist a
county or a city to specify conservation priorities and prevent oak
woodlands habitat fragmentation while minimizing the cost and
administrative burden associated with developing the plan. The
elements may include any or all of the following:
(1) Tree inventory mapping.
(2) Oak canopy retention standards.
(3) Oak habitat mitigation measures.
(4) A procedure to monitor the effectiveness of the plan and to
modify the plan as necessary.
(c) Designates an online repository for oak woodlands management
plans that will be easily accessible to the public and any other
state agency involved in oak woodlands conservation efforts.
(d) Discusses the relationship between oak woodlands conservation
efforts under this article and efforts by other state agencies to
protect oak woodlands, including efforts to combat sudden oak death,
and outlines a plan, as necessary, for coordinating with these
The board may not approve 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.
A city or county planning department may 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.
Each city or county planning department that receives a grant for the
purposes of this article shall report to the city council or to the
board of supervisors of the county, as appropriate, on the use of
those grant funds within one year from the date the grant is
No money may be expended from the fund to adopt guidelines or
to administer the fund until at least one million dollars
($1,000,000) is deposited in the fund.
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 decisionmaking.