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Live-blogging from the 2015 Harvest Gathering

November 19, 2015

Yes!

We blogged live from today’s Harvest Gathering and it was fun, productive, and educational. For example, we learned that there’s the North Bay and then there’s the Non-North Bay. Did you know? We also learned that John Woodbury at Napa Open Space District has been involved in almost every major funding initiative ever.

What else did we learn? Read the blog post below to find out. The best thing to do is read this blog post from bottom to the top, as it starts at the bottom at 10am and works its way forward in time. You can also search for #OSCfunding on Twitter where there was lots of activity. Here’s some of the Twitter chatter:

 

You can also hop over to Flickr where you’ll find pictures from before, during and after the program.

Our big thanks to our speakers:

And our thanks to everyone that came. We loved seeing you, and moving the conversation forward about regional funding and regional action.

 

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12:00pm: Deb Callahan, our Executive Director, concluded the morning by asking everyone to do at least one thing based on what they learned this morning. She also asked everyone to sign up for Outdoor Voice and to work with the Council to support this growing initiative. A big thanks to everyone for coming… let’s eat!

11:52am: We’re wrapping up the Q&A… and moving to lunch soon…

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11:48am: Andrea asked David: what is the opposition to your initiative? David said that there will be some from the Taxpayers Association, as there always is.

He said, sometimes it’s easier to make something big happen than something small. The Open Space Council has a great opportunity to think bigger for regional opportunities. It’s not acceptable that the Governor is not taking care of the State Parks. We have to build alliances with the business community, and we need to think and act big.

11:46am: Andrea asked Amy: what is a Congestion Management Agency? Amy said that there is one in each county. They have different names in each county. The PCA program is federal transportation program. Trails projects work well. Acquisition needs to be a part of mitigation somehow.

11:42am: Andrea asked Erich to talk about funding for operations and maintenance. A roar of moans and laughter in the room…

Erich talked about State Parks and the long list of deferred maintenance there. We need more public education. We need to talk more about the value of parks to the public.

He is hopeful that Outdoor Voice can help with this.

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11:41am: There was a question about where to get information about PCAs. Sara recommended this site: http://abag.ca.gov/priority/conservation/

11:40am: We’re moving to Q&A… we’re collecting questions from the audience via notecards..

“I urge that everyone really engage with the funding agencies. That’s how it happens.” – Kathryn Lyddan

11:30am: “We need multiple streams of funding to do our work” – Kathryn Lyddan

11:28am: There is a meeting on December 17 for SALC and we need people to show their support at that meeting. Here is Kathryn’s handout:

What is SALC?

In 2015, California’s cap-and-trade auction generated almost $1 billion. Auction revenues fund the Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities Program (AHSC) administered by the Strategic Growth Council. AHSC funds land-use, housing and agricultural conservation projects that lead to smart growth and reduce greenhouse gas (“GHG”) emissions. The Sustainable Agricultural Lands Conservation Program, a component of AHSC, is the first program in the country that invests in farmland conservation for its climate benefits. The California Farmland Conservancy Program (CFCP) administers SALC.

Last year, SALC received $4 million, and the applications far exceeded available funding. This year, staff is recommending an allocation of $40 million or 10% of the AHSC funding for the SALC program

What does SALC fund?

  • Strategy and outcome grants. In 2016, SALC will provide up to $250,000 to local governments to create specific agricultural protection policies, including an agricultural mitigation policies, urban limit lines, greenbelts and agricultural easement purchasing programs.
  • Agricultural conservation easements. SALC funds conservation easements on agricultural land at risk of conversion to urban uses. Applicants must demonstrate that the project will extinguish existing development rights, reducing vehicle miles traveled and GHG emissions.
  • Management practices. In 2017 SALC will begin to fund on-the-ground management practices that increase carbon sequestration. The program is currently being designed and CFCP will work closely with the NRCS and local resource conservation districts to deliver the program. 

What can I do to support SALC?

  1. The SGC will make a final determination about the SALC funding allocation and program guidelines on December 17. Please consider signing onto the Bay Area Agricultural Conservationists/CalCAN comment letter or send in your own letter of support. Better yet, please join us in Sacramento on December 17 to speak on behalf of SALC!
  1. Identify great projects and help spent $40 million in agricultural conservation funding in 2016!

Learn more:

For the proposed Guidelines and additional information, please see http://www.sgc.ca.gov/s_salcprogram.php.

For more information about the Bay Area Agricultural Conservationists/CalCAN sign-on letter, please contact Kathryn Lyddan at [email protected] or (925) 818-1511 or Jeanne Merrill, [email protected] or (916) 600-0083.

11:23am: Kathryn talked about Cap and Trade revenues which is managed by the Strategic Growth Council. A group of advocates has been successful in securing some funding for sustainable agriculture. There was $5 million for the Sustainable Ag Lands Conservation (SALC) program last year. It was a drop in the bucket.

We’re happy that in 2016 we will have $40 million. It’s a big increase and we still have more to do.

11:21am: Andrea is now introducing Kathryn Lyddan from the Brentwood Agricultural Land Trust and is leading the Bay Area Agricultural Conservationists…

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11:20am: Erich touched on the Land and Water Conservation Fund. It’s a travesty. We all really should do what we can to get involved.

11:18am: Here is Erich’s handout:

Cap-and-Trade Auction Proceeds Second Investment Plan

  • Department of Finance, California Air Resources Board (ARB) and other agencies will be submitting a three-year Investment Plan to the Legislature which will be included in the Governor’s Budget proposal in January
  • Recent Cap-and-Trade auctions have generated around $2.7 billion
  • The three-year Investment Plan is for the 40% of the proceeds which are considered discretionary
  • Strong consideration being given to Natural Resources

Actions: The draft investment plan will be considered at the December 17th ARB Board Meeting. Public comments will be taken.

Safe Neighborhood Parks, Rivers and Coastal Protection Act of 2016 – SB 317

  • $2.45 billion statewide bond measure
  • Authored as legislation by Senate Pro Tempore Kevin de Leon
  • The outline of the $2.45 billion bond has four areas of emphasis:
  1. Parks ($1.45 billion)
  2. Rivers, Lakes and Streams ($370 million)
  3. Coast and Ocean Protection ($350 million)
  4. Climate Resilience ($280 million)
  • $800 million of the Parks funding for disadvantaged communities, $200 million for per capita, $200 million for regional parks and $300 million for the Coastal Conservancy

 Actions: Urgency status allows the bill to be considered at any time (mid-June is technically the cutoff for ballot consideration). Senator de Leon needs to hear from organizations and individuals directly, with cc’s to local legislators.

The Water Supply Reliability and Drought Protection Act of 2016

  • $4.895 billion statewide bond measure for watersheds, water capture, recycled water and desalination
  • Includes $100 million for the Coastal Conservancy’s Bay program and $200 million for the San Francisco Bay Restoration Authority
  • Filed as an initiative on October 19, 2015; takes 365,880 signatures to qualify
  • Lead proponent is Gerald Meral, Natural Heritage Institute 

Actions: Public comment on the initiative ended November 18th. After the Attorney General issues an official title and summary, the Secretary of State will then clear the initiative for circulation. The proponent has 180 days to collect signatures.

 

11:15am: Erich said that his General Manager, Robert Doyle, says that it used to be that there would be $1 from federal level, $1 from the state, and $1 from local sources for conservation. The federal and state levels have dried up. And there’s more work and need for local funding.

That said, there is some action at the state level.

Regarding SB317: Reach out to Senator pro Tem Kevin de Leon and tell him that this Park Bond is important to us

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11:13am: Andrea is now introducing Erich Pfuehler from East Bay Regional Park District…

11:07am: Here’s Sara’s handout information:

What is the Priority Conservation Area Program?

The Priority Conservation Area (PCA) program is a critical tool for safeguarding our region’s greenbelt lands. The PCA program allows local governments to receive regional recognition of its conservation lands, and allows us to think regionally about how we prioritize our conservation lands.

The Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) designate PCAs as a key complement to the region’s transportation and land use goals. The PCA program allows local governments and open space/park districts to nominate conservation areas for regional recognition. It also provides an important balance to the Priority Development Areas, where local jurisdictions identify infill development areas near transit.

ABAG adopted a second round of PCAs in September 2015 as part of its Plan Bay Area 2040 efforts, designating 68 new PCAs, equaling over 400,000 acres, which brings the total designated acreage to over 2 million. Another designation round will likely occur in the next Plan Bay Area update in 2022. More information, including the application and approval process, is at abag.ca.gov/priority/conservation/

PCA Funding is a Critical Piece of the Solution

The 2012 Plan Bay Area allocated $10 million of MTC’s transportation funding to support conservation projects for PCAs through its One Bay Area Grant (OBAG) program. Some of the fund’s notable successes include protecting and restoring 150 acres of habitat in Breuner Marsh at Pt. Pinole Regional Shoreline Park in Richmond, a public-private partnership to purchase 173 acres of sensitive habitat in San Mateo’s Loma Mar, and Napa County’s approval to purchase of 263 acres of wildlife habitat in Suscol Creek Headwaters Preserve.

Just yesterday, MTC approved increasing PCA funding to $16.4m, the only funded component that significantly increased from 2012. This underscores a regional recognition that to achieve our transportation and land use goals, we must support our conservation goals. Funding will be available in 2018; grant applications will likely be accepted in late 2016 or early 2017.

What can you do?

First, we should thank MTC and ABAG for having the vision to invest in conservation. While our regional conservation needs far exceed $16.4m, this funding must be viewed as a critical piece of the solution. With its regional perspective and designation, the PCA Program is part of the rising tide that lifts all our boats for conservation.

Local governments and land trusts can further bolster the case for conservation by quantifying the multiple benefits that projects will provide, such as clean air and water, local food, wildlife habitat, carbon sequestration, and recreation.

 

11:06am: There are things that we can do to prepare to receive funding from the PCA program.

  1. PCAs can help us diversify our funding. We need to incorporate them into our budgeting.
  2. Get ready to apply for the funding! Build the partnerships you need to apply.
  3. Celebrate and tell the story about the projects that MTC has funded. Let’s bring awareness to this work.
  4. Take the long view. We can grow this funding source. It’s going in the right direction and let’s keep it going that way.

11:01am: Sara Fain: This is a great day! Just yesterday MTC approved $16.4 million for conservation. It’s not a lot of money, but it’s an innovative way to fund conservation.

“We have to maintain a regional perspective to achieve our conservation goals” – Sara Fain.

11:00am: Andrea is now introducing Sara Fain from Greenbelt Alliance…

10:55am: “People associate themselves with the Bay and they care about it and will pay for it.” – David Lewis. Here is the handout information that David shared with the group:

San Francisco Bay wetlands need to be restored

Mercury News Editorial, POSTED:   10/23/2015 03:00:00 PM PDT

This region is running out of time to protect one of its greatest resources — the San Francisco Bay — against the ravages of climate change.

At stake are billions of dollars’ worth of highways, airports, businesses and homes on land immediately adjacent to the Bay. Water levels have already risen 8 inches since 1900, and they are expected to rise another foot in the next 20 years and two feet by 2050. It may not sound like much, but it could be disastrous.

The dangers are outlined in new report, “The Baylands and Climate Change: What We Can Do (www.baylandsgoals.org).” It makes a strong case for restoring 54,000 acres of wetlands that would both greatly mitigate the damage from rising seas by, among other things, reducing the danger from severe flooding.

We can do this. Let’s get started.

The San Francisco Bay Restoration Authority is the regional agency that would oversee the project. It should move forward with its plan to place a $12 annual parcel tax measure before voters in 2016. That would raise $500 million over 20 years and potentially leverage matching dollars from the state and federal governments to help reach the $1.5 billion estimated cost.

The federal government spent nearly $500 million in 2011 helping protect Chesapeake Bay.

The San Francisco Bay region, including Silicon Valley, is even more important to the national economy.

The damage to the bay that now needs reversing is man-made. Reporter Paul Rogers set out the history in a report on the bay plan in this newspaper last Monday.

The bay has shrunk by more than one-third since the Gold Rush in 1849, thanks to diking, development and filling. State and federal law stopped those practices in the 1980s, and restoration work began in 1999. To date, more than 6,000 acres have been restored, with great results, doubling the bird population in the bay since 2002. An additional 26,000 acres have been purchased to be returned to wetlands. These are part of the 54,000 acre goal. But that leaves 28,000 acres to be bought and restored.

Sea walls still will need to be constructed in some locations, including San Francisco and Oakland’s airports. But business and environmental groups around the bay agree that restoring wetlands is greatly preferable from an environmental, recreational and aesthetic standpoint.

The San Francisco Bay’s existing wetlands are part of the area’s beauty, provide habitat for endangered species and migratory birds and offer recreational opportunities. But wetlands reduce the strength of waves hitting the shoreline and are vital to warding off floods. The height of the wetlands can also be raised by adding sediment.

Business and environmental organizations around the Bay support the restoration plan. So do advocates of low income communities vulnerable to flooding, from Alviso to Richmond. We hope when voters understand the need, they will agree.

To find out how you can help or for more information, please contact Beckie Zisser at Save The Bay: [email protected], (510) 463-6811, or visit www.savesfbay.org.

 

10:51am: The Bay is home to the largest wildlife refuge in the country. We have about 30,000 acres to restore and all we need is money to do that work. This is what started the conversation about the Restoration Authority and this initiative…

10:48am: David said that it is very likely that a regional ballot measure will be on the ballot on June 7, 2016. It will be a $12 parcel tax on all parcels in the 9 counties. There is a coalition, led by the Save the Bay, that is leading the campaign for this initiative. They are raising $5 million for c4 with the campaign. You can help with funding, you can endorse the measure, and you can join local committees on the campaign.

10:46am: Andrea is now introducing David Lewis, Executive Director of Save the Bay…

10:43am: We asked each of the speakers to provide a one-pager about their talk. Here is what Amy shared:

Propositions 12, 40, and 84: Park/Resource Bonds

  • There is about $15m remaining for Bay Area, but about $10m is designated for specific projects and programs, including matching funds for MTC’s PCA Grant Program, support for Ridge Trail, Bay Trail, and Water Trail projects, a few ongoing acquisitions, a partnership with CalEndow in Richmond, South Bay Salt Ponds, and a couple other ongoing projects.
  • The $15m includes funds specifically identified for the Bay Program and general Conservancy funding.
  • The remaining funds will be focused on projects that cannot be funded by Prop 1, such as access and recreation and other non-water related projects.
  • You are welcome to contact Conservancy staff with project ideas.

Proposition 1: Water Bond

  • Conservancy received just over $100m in Prop 1 for entire Coast and Bay Area. $15m was appropriated to us this fiscal year and we expect similar appropriation levels in the future.
  • Competitive grant program – 4 solicitations each fiscal year. Rounds 1 and 3 are general rounds. Round 2 (out now) is focused on anadromous fish. Round 4 will likely be either wetlands or urban greening.
  • We are scoring Round 1 proposals now and will inform applicants of their status before Round 2 applications are due at end of December.
  • We received 54 applications (over $60m in applications) and will likely fund 5-10. Applicants can seek feedback from us and apply again in future rounds, if not funded in Round 1.

Explore the Coast

  • A grant program that funds projects to facilitate and enhance visitation to the coast and Bay shoreline. Focused on programs, not capital projects.
  • We just had a solicitation and are reviewing the applications (80 proposals totaling $3m). Hope to do again in 2-3 years.

Priority Conservation Area Grants

  • The Conservancy will again partner with MTC and ABAG to bring additional funds to the PCA program and review proposals.
  • $8m of MTC funds for 4 North Bay counties to be managed by Congestion Management Agencies. ($2m each).
  • $8m of MTC funds for 5 Peninsula, South Bay, and East Bay Counties to be matched by Conservancy funds (~$2m) and managed as a regional program by SCC, MTC, and ABAG.
  • Project must be in a designated PCA, applicant must have a master contract with Caltrans, 2:1 matching funds required, most land acquisition or habitat restoration projects require a funding exchange with more flexible local funding.

Follow Coastal Conservancy on facebook.com/CoastalConservancy

http://scc.ca.gov/projects/san-francisco-bay/

 

10:38am: There is little funding remaining from those state-wide initiatives that funding the program for so many years (props 12, 40, 50 and 84). We now have Prop 1 funding from the Water Bond in 2014. There was $100 million for the Coastal Conservancy overall, not specifically for the Bay Program. The Coastal Conservancy got $50 million appropriated and received $60 million worth of applications. There were 60 applications and we’ll be able to fund about 10.

10:32am: Amy said that the “Bay Program has brought $400 million and 400,000 acres of acquisition and restoration in the Bay Area. The Conservation Lands Network has been integral to our work. We have also restored 10s of thousands of acres around the Bay. The Baylands Goals Report is critical to that.”

10:30am: Andrea is introducing Amy Hutzel… she will be our first panel speaker…

10:27am: Andrea Mackenzie from the Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority is kicking off our panel. There’s a new normal in public funding. What you can do is track funding, you can diversify funding sources, and track the hot topics (drought, disadvantaged communities, etc). You can start new partnerships with new groups.

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“There is power in coalitions. Find them. Join them. That is the future of funding,” Andrea said.

10:23am: We have thanked Amy Hutzel at the Coastal Conservancy and Ron Brown from Save Mount Diablo for their service to the region and to the Open Space Council. We are so grateful for their contributions. I’ll share some pictures later this afternoon.

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10:10am: Good morning!

I bet you’re tuning in because you want to hear the latest news and future outlook for public funding opportunities. Yes? You’re in luck. Today is our Harvest Gathering and we’ll be live-blogging. We have convened a panel who can give you information AND take it one step further by giving you tools to help ensure these funding sources happen and are sustainable. We will specifically discuss the latest on the Restoration Authority, Bay Program of the Coastal Conservancy, Strategic Growth Council’s agricultural lands program, the Bay Area’s Priority Conservation Areas, potential statewide ballot initiatives, and Cap and Trade program revenue.

Our speakers will be:

  • Sara Fain, Greenbelt Alliance, to talk about ABAG’s Priority Conservation Areas (PCAs)
  • Amy Hutzel, Coastal Conservancy, to talk about the Bay Program of the Coastal Conservancy
  • David Lewis, Save the Bay, to talk about the Restoration Authority
  • Kathryn Lyddan, Bay Area Agriculture Conservationists, to talk about Strategic Growth Council’s agriculture program
  • Andrea Mackenzie, Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority, to moderate
  • Erich Pfuehler, East Bay Regional Park District, to talk about potential state-wide initiatives and Cap and Trade program revenue

Here’s how it’ll work. Every 10-15 minutes we’ll share an update here with you. All you need to do is refresh this page (or visit online if you’re reading this by email) and you’ll feel like you were there (kinda). We want to disseminate this information far and wide so we’ll share all we can. Maybe a picture or two, also.

Ready? Here we go!