Simplifying Restoration on Private and Public Lands

Agricultural runoff from farms and ranches is one of the biggest sources of pollution in California’s rivers and streams. When rainfall runs off into waterways, it carries sediment, fertilizer and chemicals that harm water quality.

Many ranchers and farmers want to restore their land and the waterways that flow through their properties; however, the process to do so is complicated and expensive.

When wanting to restore an eroded creek, for example, landowners must apply to as many as eight agencies for permits, spend more than $1,500 of their own money in fees and wait at least a year for approval. As a result, many farmers and ranchers forego opportunities to restore the natural resources under their care.

Statewide Programmatic Permitting

Sustainable Conservation launched Partners in Restoration more than a decade ago because we saw the vital role individuals play in protecting California’s natural resources. Through the program, Sustainable Conservation develops “pre-approved” permits for small-scale restoration efforts. These permits eliminate the need for landowners to gain case-by-case approval from multiple regulatory agencies, making it faster, cheaper and easier for stewardship-minded landowners to keep farmland and ranchland from eroding into waterways, clean up murky water and promote wildlife like imperiled fish.

Because more than 50% of California is privately owned and a vast majority of California’s rivers and streams flow through or along private property — engaging these individuals is of vital importance.

Sustainable Conservation is actively partnering with federal and state agencies to develop statewide permits for projects that improve water quality, and enhance fish and wildlife habitat. By avoiding the cost and time involved in developing single, project-specific permits, Sustainable Conservation will greatly accelerate and expand the scope and impact of voluntary restoration throughout the state.

Impact

Launched in 1996, Partners in Restoration:

  • Covers nearly 4,500,000 acres of farmland and ranchland, and hundreds of miles of rivers and streams across California
  • Is established in nine counties and 50 key watersheds from Mendocino to Santa Barbara
  • Has resulted in more than 200 projects, preventing over 200,000 tons of sediment from entering waterways and fish habitat
  • Received the 2004 Governor’s Environmental and Economic Leadership Award

Highlights

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