The Wildlife Conservation Board is primarily responsible for acquiring interests in water and land for the purposes of preserving wildlife and providing opportunities for public recreation. Because wetlands are among the more precious wildlife habitats remaining in California, they are an important focus of the WCB's efforts. The WCB offers up to fair market value for full title of property, or for selected rights such as those conferred through conservation easements that will enable the same degree of habitat protection.
The WCB works only with willing sellers. Whether negotiations are centered on the property itself or on an interest in the property is a decision left entirely to the landowner. There are many possible scenarios for land transactions, each of which will result in a different gain for the landowner. WCB staff are ready to work with landowners to arrive at the most beneficial outcome.
How the program works
Landowners interested in selling or donating full or partial interests in their land first contact WCB staff to talk about the various options. WCB staff will then ask the Department of Fish and Game to make an ecological assessment of the land. If indications are that both the landowner and the wetland will be well served by a permanent transfer of property rights, negotiations can begin with the preparation of an independent appraisal of the land's value. The final transaction must be approved by the governing body of the Wildlife Conservation Board.
In the case of conservation easements, the terms and restrictions of each easement will be unique, reflecting the needs of the landowner. Uses of land under easement can include leasing for hunting, but most agricultural activities will be prohibited. In addition, the easement can allow for landowner participation in other programs that provide funding for habitat restoration or enhancement.
Statewide. Activities of the Wildlife Conservation Board are supported by several funding mechanisms with varying degrees of susceptibility to changes in annual state budget priorities. The WCB program has been well funded since its formation in 1947. For more information, contact the Board at (916) 445-8448.