Climate Action and Resiliency

Make Sonoma County carbon neutral by 2030.

Goal 5, Objective 2

Develop policies to maximize carbon sequestration and minimize the loss of natural carbon sinks including old-growth forests, the Laguna de Santa Rosa, and rangelands. Encourage agricultural and open space land management to maximize sequestration. Develop a framework and policies to incentivize collaboration with private and public land owners.
On Track 30%

Updated: January 2023

Summary of Objective Implementation Status

Sonoma County’s Climate Resilient Lands Strategy, adopted September 13, 2022,  provides a framework and policies to incentivize collaboration with private and public land owners to maximize carbon sequestration and to minimize loss of natural carbon sinks, including old growth forests, the Laguna de Santa Rosa, and rangelands. Enhanced land conservation and management efforts are on-going. The Vital Lands Initiative and the Sonoma County Climate Resilient Lands Strategy provide policies and framework needed for conservation and management of natural and agricultural lands that support adaptation and mitigation of climate change. The General Plan update is now underway and will also include land use policies that support climate resilience. Ag + Open Space has identified high priority areas for climate resilience and biodiversity and will initiate outreach efforts in 2023. Ag + Open Space has created a Community Resources Program to provide community support and engagement through outreach and communication, outings and education, government relations, grant funding, and technical expertise to increase resilience of natural and human communities.

The County’s Climate Action and Resiliency Division (CARD) was awarded $10 million from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service grant program in September 2022. CARD is the lead entity on the grant, which is a partnership with local resource conservation districts, non-profits, and Marin and Sonoma county agencies. Work funded by this grant will increase carbon sequestration through enhanced agricultural practices.

Key Milestone Update

  • Develop a climate adaptation plan with a focus on natural systems by end of 2022 – COMPLETE
  • Develop an agricultural climate adaptation plan, “Elevating and Valuing Agriculture’s Role in Climate Mitigation and Adaptation Planning” by mid 2023 – INCORPORATED INTO SONOMA COUNTY CLIMATE RESILIENT LANDS STRATEGY
  • Identifying specific, measurable targets for land conservation to ensure climate resiliency by mid 2022 and modify as needed after completion of climate adaption plans – IN PROCESS, WILL BE COMPLETED BY MID 2023
  • Outreach to landowners within high priority regions to encourage permanent land protection and enhanced management by end of 2022 – WILL BEGIN IN 2023
  • Acquire conservation easements over a diversity of lands that sequester carbon and support adaption to climate change – ON-GOING, AG + OPEN SPACE HAS 33 ACQUISITION PROJECTS AND 25 MATCHING GRANT PROJECTS IN PROCESS
  • Provide landowners with incentives to implement land management practices that increase carbon sequestration and the health of natural systems – ON-GOING, INCREASED EFFORTS IN 2023
  • Adopt land use policies that encourage and direct city centered growth and conservation of natural and working lands through the General Plan update – IN PROCESS

Coordination and Partnership Update

Ag + Open Space is currently working with county agencies such as Sonoma Water, Permit Sonoma, Public Infrastructure, and Regional Parks and non-profit partners such as Sonoma Land Trust, Save the Redwoods League, The Conservation Fund, and the Wildlands Conservancy on land conservation projects throughout the county. Ag + Open Space is also working on Urban Open Space or Matching Grant projects with local cities including Cloverdale, Healdsburg, Petaluma, Santa Rosa, Sebastopol, Sonoma, and Windsor. In the coming year, we will also partner with agricultural organizations, county agencies, Resource Conservation Districts, and science based organizations to encourage enhanced land management and agricultural production practices.

Community, Equity, and Climate Update

Ag + Open Space has incorporated equity criteria into our project evaluation processes and has created a Farmland for All program with the intention of increasing equitable access to agricultural lands. Ag + Open Space is partnering with a variety of recreation providers to ensure protected lands are accessible to all members of our community. We are working with Regional Parks on a gap analysis for parks and open space that will be completed in 2023.

Funding Narrative

Ag + Open Space sales tax funding provides a significant opportunity to fund land conservation efforts. These funds are consistently leveraged with public and private funding sources at the federal, state and local level. Ag + Open Space currently has over $5 million in approved grants not including funds being provided by our numerous partners. Ag + Open Space is working with the County (CAO and Regional Parks) to develop recommendations for the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria mitigation funding for Parks and Open Space that include enhancing land management and agricultural production and will request a formal consultative process with Graton.

The County’s Climate Action and Resiliency Division (CARD) was awarded $10 million from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service grant program in September 2022.