May 27 2014
Designation Will Provide Much-Needed Resources to Aid in Central Valley Conservation Efforts
Washington—U.S. Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein (both D-CA) today praised Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack’s announcement that California’s Central Valley has been selected as one of eight critical conservation areas (CCA) under the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP). The designation comes after the Members sent a letter to Secretary Vilsack, urging him to designate the Valley a CCA.
Authorized under the 2014 Farm Bill, the program will provide businesses, non-profits, universities, and federal, state and local governments opportunities to partner with agricultural and conservation groups to invest in innovative water and soil conservation projects.
“The Central Valley is the breadbasket of the world, home to millions of Californians and a rich habitat for fish and wildlife. But drought and other environmental challenges threaten to devastate the region. Designating the Valley a critical conservation area will provide much-needed resources to supplement ongoing conservation efforts. This support will help preserve the Valley as a key source of food, safeguard its role as a driver of California’s economy and protect the area for Californians and wildlife alike,” Senator Feinstein said.
“I thank the Obama Administration for selecting the California Bay Delta and the Central Valley as a Critical Conservation Area,” Senator Boxer said. “This designation will support innovative projects to help our farmers during a time of historic drought, while also promoting soil and water conservation to ensure that the Central Valley remains vibrant and productive for decades to come.”
The designation of the Central Valley (the Bay-Delta Critical Conservation Area) as a CCA acknowledges the importance of the Valley in the nation’s food supply and the difficult challenges the region faces. It produces one-quarter of the nation’s food, representing $17 billion in annual economic revenue. It’s the source of our country’s most nutritious crops, with more than 250 varieties of fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, and grains. At over 450 miles in length and 60 miles at its widest point, it is the largest patch of Class I soil in the world, and enjoys a productive growing climate nearly all year. The Valley is also home to more than 6.8 million Californians as well as crucial fish and migratory bird populations.
The Valley currently faces significant hardship as a result of historic drought and other environmental stressors – making it all the more vital that resources be directed to the area that benefit watershed restoration, improve air quality and soil management, and create resiliency in our agricultural system.