No woodlands preservation money for Nevada Countians | TheUnion.com
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No woodlands preservation money for Nevada Countians

Nevada County residents who might want to preserve oak woodlands can’t get state money available for preservation and restoration projects because the county has no habitat management plan, the county’s civil grand jury reported Tuesday.

The state’s Wildlife Conservation Board provides $16 million for people to buy conservation easements, receive compensation for not cutting trees, get reimbursed for conservation improvements and receive compensation for alternative grazing practices that would preserve the foothill habitat threatened by expanding development.

But no one here is eligible to receive the money, because the county Planning Department has not submitted an oak woodland management plan to the state, the grand jury found. Fourteen counties, including nearby Placer, Yuba, Butte and Sutter, have submitted such plans, the grand jury said.



In addition, the conservation board can help counties pay to develop such a management plan, the grand jury said in its report.

“The county planning department will include in their planning projects for the next fiscal year an oak woodlands management plan,” the grand jury concluded. “The project will be submitted to the board of supervisors for prioritization and funding.”




County Director of Planning Jory Stewart, who has been on the job just three weeks, will be working with El Dorado County officials who already have gone through their planning process, she said.

“We intend to get it into this fiscal year’s work schedule,” Stewart added.

The report, the grand jury’s second for the year, can be seen at http://www.civilgrandjury.com. The Grand Jury received a written complaint alleging that the county has not complied with the Oak Woodlands Conservation Act.

“In spite of the importance and critical role oaks have played in shaping California’s history, its economy and landscape, the state continues to lose oak woodlands to development, firewood harvesting and agricultural conversions,” according to the Wildlife Conservation Board’s Web site.

About 6.5 million acres of California’s original 10 million acres of oak woodland remain, according to the site at http://www.wcb.ca.gov/Pages/oak_woodlands_Act.asp.

The woodlands benefit property values for residents and business people, provide habitat for more than 300 species of creatures and play important roles in moderating climate, preventing erosion and improving water quality.

But worries about development and agricultural expansion lead to the passage of the Oak Woodlands Conservation Act of 2001.

The conservation board oversees implementation of the woodlands act, and it has distributed $7.6 million to counties for woodland projects, the grand jury reported.

The state does not require counties to submit an oak woodland management plan, but counties must have one for landowners, nonprofit groups, government agencies and businesses to apply for the conservation funds.

The grand jury received a written complaint alleging that the county had not complied with the Oak Woodlands Conservation Act. Beyond the $16 million, no further funding has been authorized by the state legislature, the report said.

Nevada County leaders must respond to the grand jury’s report by May 12.

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To contact City Editor Trina Kleist, e-mail tkleist@theunion.com or call 477-4230.


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