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Nevada Countians not eligible for oak woodland money

People in Nevada County 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 today.

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

But because the county Planning Department has not submitted an oak woodland management plan to the state, no one here is eligible to receive the money, the grand jury found.



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.”




The report, the grand jury’s second for the year, can be seen at http://www.civilgrandjury.com.

“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.

About 6.5 million acres of California’s original 10 million acres of oak woodland remain, according to the Wildlife Conservation Board’s Web site, 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 development and agricultural expansion threaten the woodlands, leaving 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. Placer, Yuba, Butte and Sutter counties are among the recipients.

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 found.

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

The Grand Jury received a written complaint alleging that the county has not complied with the Oak Woodlands Conservation Act.

For complete report, see tomorrow’s print edition of The Union.

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