Wednesday, April 24, 2019
forested mountains

Forest Conservation Program

On November 7, 2006, the people of California enacted the Safe Drinking Water, Water Quality and Supply, Flood Control, River and Coastal Protection Bond Act of 2006, commonly referred to as Proposition 84. As part of the people's initiative, the Act designated the Wildlife Conservation Board (WCB) as the lead agency for carrying out a grant program for forest conservation and protection projects.

Purpose and Authority

Pursuant to the provisions of Pubic Resources Code Section 75055 (a), the goal of the grant program is to promote the ecological integrity and economic stability of California's diverse native forests for all their public benefits through forest conservation, preservation and restoration of productive managed forest lands, forest reserve areas, redwood forests and other forest types, including the conservation of water resources and natural habitat for native fish and wildlife and plants found on these lands.

Guiding Principles

Guiding Principles are designed to facilitate the solicitation of applications that will achieve forest conservation efforts in a manner that promotes ecological integrity and economic stability. Applicants are encouraged to use the principles as benchmarks in completing the project application as they will be used as part of the evaluation and ranking process.

  • Working forests/productive managed forestlands shall be the primary emphasis of the Forest Conservation Program.
  • Forest reserve areas are an important component of California's diverse native forests and shall be part of the Forest Conservation Program.
  • Each project must promote the restoration and/or the maintenance of the ecological integrity and economic stability of the property in the context of the surrounding landscape and regional economy.
  • The project application must articulate in sufficient detail how the proposed project relates to an existing regional, state or local public or private planning process if applicable, and address the local priority and ecological need.
  • Restoration efforts shall contribute toward the ecological integrity and economic stability of the native forest. Restoration projects must demonstrate the long-term protection of the restoration effort and be tied to the forest structure and sustainability. A long-term agreement to manage the restoration effort must coincide with the useful life of the improvements and restoration practices.
  • Projects will be evaluated based on a process that ranks and prioritizes applications based on their ability to sufficiently describe how the project contributes toward the program goal, guidelines and selection criteria.
  • Future management activities and or restoration investment should be from committed or clearly identified and articulated funding sources to be considered part of the project.
  • Overall accomplishment of the program goal can best be achieved through projects that provide the greatest economic efficiency by using the best available tool. Applicants must clearly state the objectives of the project and describe how the project will achieve the stated objectives.


To achieve the purpose and objectives of the Forest Conservation Program, the following terms have the following meaning:

“Acquisition” means the purchase or donation of a fee interest or any lesser interest in real property including easements and development rights.

“Board” means the Wildlife Conservation Board.

“Conservation Easement” means a legal agreement between a landowner and an eligible organization that restricts future activities on the land to protect the conservation values and is defined by Section 815.1 of the Civil Code that is perpetual.

"Compatible Use" is any use which does not significantly detract from the use of the property for, or inhibit, growing and harvesting timber, and shall include, but not be limited to, any of the following:

  1. Management for watershed health and sustainability.
  2. Management for fish and wildlife habitat or hunting and fishing.
  3. A use integrally related to the growing, harvesting and processing of forest products, including but not limited to roads, log landings, and log storage areas.
  4. The erection, construction, alteration, or maintenance of gas, electric, water, or communication transmission facilities, that compliments the economic stability while maintaining the ecological integrity.
  5. Grazing.

“Economic Efficiency” means achieving the greatest scope and scale of the possible ecological, economic, and social benefits, at the lowest possible economic cost.

“Ecological Integrity” means the capability of the forest to maintain:

  1. Productive ecological capacity of the land, including the ability of the forest to fix carbon, cycle water, and retain nutrients.
  2. Composition, structure and characteristics of the native forest type.
  3. Ability of the ecosystem to recover from stress and disturbance.

“Economic Stability” means the project contributes to the resilience of the regional forest related economies as reflected in forest-based employment and outputs, and costs of goods and services. Regional economic stability is best achieved through investment in forest conservation projects that apply the principles of sustainable forestry, maximize available economic efficiencies, and are self-sustaining in the long term.

“Eligible Entity” means any public or private organization qualified to hold interests in real property, qualifies as a tax-exempt entity under IRC Section 501 (c)(3) and has as their primary mission the preservation and conservation of land.

“Forestland” means that at least 50 percent of the land or project area is stocked with native forests.

“Forest Reserve” means a forest area that is set aside for the protection of certain fauna, flora, other ecosystem services or some combination thereof. Reserves are managed primarily to safeguard these features or functions while providing for other compatible uses.

“Forest Restoration” is the process of assisting the recovery of forest species composition, stand structure and patterns of natural disturbance and ecological processes, to more closely approximate reference conditions. The primary focus of such restoration actions is to recover ecological integrity in order to minimize the need for future intervention. Restoration projects shall include the planning, monitoring and reporting necessary to ensure successful implementation.

“Local Public Agency” means any city, county, city and county, resource conservation district, special district, joint powers authority made up of two or more local public agencies and one or more state agencies.

“Long-Term Agreement” means a binding contractual agreement between a landowner, an eligible applicant (as defined), and the Wildlife Conservation Board, whereby the landowner agrees to manage and maintain forest improvements or restoration efforts for a designated period of time. Restoration grants are not awarded directly to a private landowner. Restoration projects must be coordinated with an eligible applicant who will receive the grant funds necessary to coordinate and implement the restoration effort.

“NativeForest” means a forest classified in the 1988 edition, or its approved successor equivalent, of “A Guide to Wildlife Habitats of California”, published by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, and forests that are composed of the forests types within those classifications, and contains at least 10% canopy cover under natural (non-irrigated) conditions.

“Nonprofit Organization” means any nonprofit corporation qualified to do business in California, and qualified under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.

“Permanent Protection” means the land is dedicated to the goals of the Forest Conservation Program in perpetuity through control of fee interests or other interest in the real property including but not limited to easements, development rights, water rights and/or mineral rights.

“Productive Managed Forestland” means the native forest is managed for forest based products, services and other compatible uses.

“Timberland” means privately owned land, or land acquired for state forest purposes, which is devoted to and used for growing and harvesting timber, or for growing and harvesting timber and compatible uses, and which is capable of growing an average annual volume of wood fiber of at least 15 cubic feet per acre.

"Timberland Production Zone" or "TPZ" means an area which has been zoned pursuant to Government Code Section 51112 or 51113 and is devoted to and used for growing and harvesting timber, or for growing and harvesting timber and compatible uses.

Eligible Applicants

Eligible applicants include a willing landowner, a local governmental entity, special district, resource conservation district, joint powers authority, nonprofit organization (501(c)(3), or state agency. The WCB strongly encourages applicants to develop partnerships that share an interest in the project necessary to leverage technical and management skills, as well as fiscal resources.

Eligibility Requirements

To be eligible for funding consideration from the Forest Conservation Program, all proposed projects must meet the following eligibility requirements:

  1. Acquisition of any interest in real property (fee title or conservation easement) must be from a willing seller supported by an appraisal that utilizes private market based assumptions consistent with State and if applicable, Federal appraisal standards. The interest must be held by an eligible entity. Special attention shall be paid to the assumptions of development value of un-entitled raw land.
  2. The project must meet the goals of the Forest Conservation Program and comply with the Purpose and Guiding Principles of the Program.
  3. The project must protect and/or restore native forests on the property.
  4. Restoration efforts must demonstrate a long-term commitment and agreement to manage and protect the ecological integrity of the forest consistent with the goals and Guiding Principles of the program. Landowners will be required to sign a long-term agreement to manage the restoration project for the useful life of the restoration effort.

Administrative Process

Submitting Applications

Applications will be accepted on a continuous basis. All proposals will be evaluated by WCB staff and an independent team of Resource Agency professionals (with biological and forestry expertise).

Project proposals will be reviewed for compliance with program requirements and then ranked and prioritized against defined program guidelines and selection criteria. If the project merits further Board consideration, applicants will be notified as appropriate. Prior to submitting an application, applicants are encouraged to meet with staff from the WCB to discuss the proposed project.

If the proposed project demonstrates consistency with the program requirements, meets the program guidelines and selection criteria, and sufficient money exists to fund the request, the project may be scheduled for Board consideration. Applicants will be notified as to when the project will be considered by the Board. For questions regarding the Forest Conservation Program, call (916) 445-8448

All applications should be mailed to:

Executive Director, Wildlife Conservation Board
Post Office Box 944209
Sacramento, California 94244-2090

Baseline Conditions Report

Prior to the close of escrow for an acquisition project, a Baseline Conditions Report shall be prepared and delivered to the WCB office for review and approval. The Baseline Conditions Report shall provide detailed information on the condition of the property to be protected. The documentation (Baseline Conditions Report) shall be tailored to the purposes of the WCB Grant Agreement and the specific conservation values to be protected by the acquisition of the real interest in the property. Descriptions of the condition of the property and conservation values should be sufficiently detailed to allow for meaningful future comparisons.

The Baseline Conditions Report must be completed, signed and certified by the landowner(s) and the recipient of the WCB grant funds prior to the close of escrow. The certification must confirm that the Baseline Conditions Report is a current and accurate description and representation of the property, the health of its resources and conservation values, as of the closing.

The Baseline Conditions Report shall provide a narrative that characterizes the overall general condition of the conservation values protected by the acquisition of real interests in the property.

For purposes of baseline documentation, the report must provide descriptions that are clearly defined and sufficiently detailed to allow for meaningful future comparisons and must (a) describe and document the features and characteristics of the property in relation to the purposes, conservation values, and terms of any grant awarded by the WCB; (b) describe and document the conservation values and resources protected by the acquisition of interests in the real property; (c) contain all information necessary for the grantee to administer, monitor and enforce the conservation easement or grant deed; and (d) include a copy of the recorded conservation easement or grant deed.

Attachment I identifies the minimum requirements for the content of a Baseline Conditions Report.

Monitoring Requirements

Compliance Monitoring: On an annual basis, all projects funded in whole or in part by the WCB must be monitored for compliance with the terms and conditions of the WCB Grant Agreement, the conservation easement, the restoration grant agreement or any other instrument of conveyance as appropriate. Compliance monitoring shall note any changes to the property compared to the Baseline Conditions Report and the prior monitoring report.

Not less than once, in any period of three calendar years, WCB shall have access to the property to assess compliance with the terms, covenants and conditions of the WCB Grant Agreement, conservation easement, or other instrument of conveyance. To the extent possible, such visits will be scheduled at the time of the annual monitoring visit.

Monitoring Report: The easement holder, the holder of fee title or the grant recipient for restoration projects shall provide an annual written report of its monitoring activities and the results of such monitoring to the WCB in accordance with approved monitoring protocols. The monitoring report shall document and describe the monitoring activities in a manner that demonstrates the monitoring was conducted in accordance with the approved monitoring protocol.

Monitoring Protocol: Prior to the close of escrow, or final approval of the WCB Grant Agreement for restoration projects, the WCB will review and approve monitoring protocols for the protected property (in fee title or conservation easement) or restoration effort. Using the Baseline Conditions Report as a benchmark, the monitoring protocol should be adaptive and address the purposes, frequency, timing and methods of monitoring the property. The protocol is the framework that will guide the preparation for and implementation of the annual monitoring of the protected or restored land and must be tailored to address the purposes, terms and conditions of the WCB Grant Agreement.

Attachment II identifies the minimum content for monitoring protocols.

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Wildlife Conservation Board
Physical Address: 1700 9th Street, 4th Floor, Sacramento, CA 95811
Mailing Address: Wildlife Conservation Board c/o CDFW, P.O. Box 944209, Sacramento, CA 94244-2090
(916) 445-8448 |Contact WCB
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