The Inland Wetland Conservation Program (IWCP) was developed as one approach to achieving the objectives of the Central Valley Habitat Joint Venture (CVHJV; see description under Partnerships for Waterfowl on p. 24). Those objectives include enhancement of wetlands and other waterfowl habitat on private lands. The IWCP works with private landowners to achieve these objectives in two ways: by providing technical and cost-share assistance in developing and implementing management plans or habitat restoration projects; and by purchasing conservation easements or full title to wetland habitats from willing sellers. The IWCP can also play a part in more innovative arrangements, such as the ricelands pilot program. The CVHJV member organizations understand that the needs and priorities of no two private landowners will be precisely alike. Therefore, considerable flexibility has been built into the Inland Wetland Conservation Program.
How the program works
Restoration and enhancement projects: The habitat improvement component of the IWCP operates in conjunction with a local nonprofit, special district, or other government agency, which acts as a local sponsor to oversee and administer the project after the Wildlife Conservation Board has agreed to provide cost-share assistance. Landowners interested in improving wetland habitat on their property first contact staff of the Wildlife Conservation Board or the local sponsor. A working group is assembled, consisting of the landowner, a field biologist from the state, and staff from the local sponsor and the WCB. The group meets on the property to discuss the possibilities for habitat enhancement. If the landowner wishes to proceed, a management plan is developed that describes the measures to be taken to establish and maintain habitat improvements. Typical enhancement efforts include but are not limited to: constructing levees and water control structures; cultivating and planting grain for winter feeding; and constructing brood-rearing ponds. The plan and proposed matching assistance is submitted to the Board for approval.
If approved, the Board's contribution to the project cost is passed on to the landowner through the local sponsor. The program offers up to 50 percent cost-share for effecting the improvements described in the plan. The landowner's share can be met through cash expenditures or in-kind services, such as providing for the long-term maintenance of the project. In addition, with assistance from members of the working group, the landowner is responsible for obtaining any permits or water rights necessary for the project.
Habitat protection: Landowners who are interested in protecting valuable wetlands on their property but are unable to commit to active management can enter into arrangements that achieve habitat preservation through restrictions on present and future uses of the land. These arrangements, which are made between WCB staff and the landowner, can take many forms, including permanent conservation easements, long-term leases, or outright sale of the wetland property. The Wildlife Conservation Board is required by law to pay fair market value for the purchase of land or a conservation easement. Given the landowner's needs, the goals of the program, and the variety of potential financial implications when transferring land rights, the Board and the landowner negotiate a transaction that is best suited to the landowner's situation.
The Inland Wetland Conservation Program is offered throughout the Central Valley, including the Butte, Colusa, Sutter, Yolo, American, and San Joaquin basins, Suisun Marsh, the Delta, and the Tulare Lake area. This program is financed by the State Habitat Conservation Fund, established for availability through 2020. For additional information, contact the Wildlife Conservation Board Wetlands Program Manager at (916) 445-1093.