Water Resource Enhancement and Climate Change Mitigation Through Strategic Agricultural Land Protection, Land Access, and Land Transitions

Project Overview

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2022: $99,965.00
Projected End Date: 03/31/2025
Host Institution Award ID: G387-22-W9214
Grant Recipient: American Farmland Trust
Region: Western
State: California
Principal Investigator:
Kara Heckert
American Farmland Trust
Jeff Schreiber
American Farmland Trust
Stacy Shutts
American Farmland Trust

Information Products


Not commodity specific


  • Crop Production: drought tolerance, fallow, irrigation, water management, water storage
  • Education and Training: decision support system, demonstration, workshop
  • Farm Business Management: agricultural finance, budgets/cost and returns, farm succession, financial management, land access, Water Resources
  • Sustainable Communities: community planning, local and regional food systems

    Proposal abstract:

    American Farmland Trust (AFT) will train a minimum of 40 agricultural professionals in the use of the San Joaquin Valley (SJV) Project Prioritization Tool (PPT) (https://sjvp.databasin.org/maps/c97f8b5597e24755b38716ebc207eeb9/active/) to target and prioritize conservation practices, easements and fee acquisitions, and strategic land retirement projects; implement Buy-Protect-Sell (BPS) and Option to Purchase at Agricultural Value (OPAV) projects to create affordable access to agricultural land for new and beginning farmers and ranchers; and to implement strategic land retirement and varying land management options for land retired from agriculture. Each project element will be taught to trainees within the context of water resource sustainability and climate change mitigation needs in California, focused in the geographic areas of the SJV and Southern California due to their significance to agriculture as well as relative aridity compared to other California regions. AFT will complete 8 training workshops – 4 in the SJV and 4 in Southern California. In the SJV, trainings will be as such: 2 focused on the PPT, 1 focused on BPS and OPAV projects, and 1 focused on strategic land retirement. Trainings will be as follows in Southern California: 2 focused on BPS and OPAV projects, and 2 focused on strategic land retirement. Trainees will be organized in four separate cohorts, defined by their region. SJV trainees will attend 1 of the trainings offered for each topic and Southern California trainees will likewise attend 1 of the trainings offered for each topic in their respective region. Trainings will enhance the capacity of trainees from land trusts, Resource Conservation Districts (RCD), county departments, University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE), California state agencies, Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and other land protection entities to efficiently address water resource sustainability and climate change mitigation through optimized targeting of time and resources to priority sites and projects.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    The project objectives are to:

    1. Build the capacity of agricultural professionals to identify, target, and prioritize agricultural lands for land protection projects that have high quality land, are at risk of land conversion, and provide high groundwater recharge potential.
    2. Build the capacity of agricultural professionals to carry out BPS and OPAV projects.
    3. Enhance strategic and collaborative land retirement and conversions from irrigated agriculture to alternative land management options that provide water resource, soil health, agronomic, economic, wildlife, and/or social benefits.
    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.