Grant Award Leads to Historic Acquisition by California’s First Black-led Land Conservation Organization
Wildlife Conservation Board Awards $163.5 million in Grants to 37 Habitat Conservation and Restoration Projects
The Wildlife Conservation Board (WCB) provided a $2.27 million grant to the 40 Acre Conservation League, California’s only Black-led conservation group, for the Tahoe Forest Gateway Leidesdorff Property in Placer County, a cooperative project with the Sierra Nevada Conservancy. The conservation group acquired approximately 650 acres of land near the Tahoe Lake area for the purposes of wildlife-oriented education and research, wildlife habitat preservation, restoration and management.
The WCB approved approximately $163.5 million in grants to 37 projects at its Aug. 24, 2023, quarterly meeting that will help restore and protect fish and wildlife habitat throughout California. The grants will also provide new and improved public access, recreation and educational opportunities.
“I am so thrilled that I was able to help secure $3 million for 40 Acre Conservation League’s first land acquisition,” said Assemblymember Mike A. Gipson (D-Carson). “This remarkable achievement is a gateway for more people of color to enter the conservancy space, and it demonstrates that when like-minded organizations unite for a common cause, they can achieve remarkable results. The $3 million secured for the 40 Acre Conservation League is not just a financial milestone; it is an investment in the future of our environment and a testament to the potential of dedicated conservationists working together.”
Other funded projects include:
- A $779,000 grant to the Tongva Taraxat Paxaavxa Conservancy for a project to restore a sage scrub ecosystem in Altadena, Los Angeles County, that will serve as a valuable agricultural learning process for Tongva Community Members to revitalize culture, language and traditional land stewardship. This site will represent the first community-owned gathering space for the Tongva community since the Spanish Mission system in 1771.
“This funding from WCB gives us, a Tongva-led land conservancy, an opportunity to start fresh,” said Tongva Taraxat Paxaavxa Conservancy, Land Return Coordinator Samantha Morales Johnson. “At Huhuunga, the first site since colonization returned to Tongvetam, over 90 percent of the plants present are non-native species. This first project with WCB allows us to remove invasive trees and pay Tongva people to remove the understory taking over our oak grove. This is a vital part of our community healing with the land, and we hope to continue to receive support toward more land returned and funding of California-Native led projects throughout the state.”
- An $8.7 million grant to the Big Sur Land Trust for a cooperative project with the Esselen Tribe of Monterey County to acquire 5,100 acres of land for the protection of riparian chaparral, oak woodland and perennial grassland habitats. The Basin Ranch property will be co-managed with the Esselen Tribe of Monterey County, who will provide access to other tribes in the region.
- A $5.8 million grant to the Regents of the University of California at Davis for a project to develop the plans, designs and environmental review necessary to create a wildlife crossing over Interstate 8 for Peninsular bighorn sheep in Imperial County that will allow bighorn sheep to safely continue their seasonal migrations. This has led the California Department of Fish and Wildlife to include this area as a “Top Priority,” for Restoring California’s Wildlife Connectivity (PDF), which places it among the 12 barriers most in need of improvement throughout the state.
"Wildlife in the desert are constantly stressed by drought and temperature and must move,” said Fraser Shilling, the director of UC Davis’ Road Ecology Center. “The Interstate 8 wildlife crossings will provide critical flexibility for the endangered Peninsular bighorn sheep and other wildlife to move more freely.”
- A $7 million grant to the Land Trust of Napa County for a cooperative project with the State Coastal Conservancy, Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and The Conservation Fund to acquire 2,300 acres of land for the protection of wildlife habitat in response to climate change, expansion of wildlife corridors, restoration, wildlife-oriented education and future wildlife-oriented public use opportunities, located in the Napa River watershed.
“Walt Ranch is a top priority for conservation,” said Doug Parker, president and CEO of Land Trust of Napa County. “It has everything – large size at 2,300 acres, adjacent to over 5,500 acres of existing protected land, several rare species, water resources including a municipal water supply, and it is located at the junction of two priority wildlife corridors.”
- A $12 million grant to the Los Angeles County Public Works to create engineering designs and permits to enhance and restore habitat for the unarmored three-spined stickleback and other rare, sensitive, threatened, and endangered riparian and aquatic species. Bouquet Creek Canyon, located five miles north of Santa Clarita within the Angeles National Forest, will receive other enhancements including increased water supply, sediment management and conveyance, flood protection and increased public access to multiple day-use areas and trails.
For more information about the WCB, please visit wcb.ca.gov.
Mark Topping, Wildlife Conservation Board, (916) 539-4673
Rebecca Fris, Wildlife Conservation Board, (916) 212-5637