Department of Conservation’s ongoing goal: Making ‘California an even better place to live’

As 2023 begins, we at the Department of Conservation resolve to continue advancing California’s environmental goals and protecting public safety and the environment.

Like you, we love our state and want it to have the greenest and brightest future possible.

“Our department’s work supports the state’s objectives for climate and our natural and working lands. Our expertise and experience are helping to make California an even better place to live.”

Conservation Director David Shabazian

As we look forward, we reflect with a sense of pride on some of our achievements during 2022.

California Geological Survey

The California Geological Survey (CGS) completed an update of 9-year-old tsunami maps for the entire coast.

The maps — which incorporate data from recent tsunamis that have struck the state’s shores — allow local governments and emergency managers to better understand their potential risk and develop appropriate evacuation routes and response plans.

CGS updated geologic maps for six regions (covering about 4,000 square miles) and mapped areas with potential sources of important minerals used in products such as electric vehicles and cell phones.

Additionally, CGS began a long-term project to make mineral production information — previously available only on paper — accessible via the department website.

Photos of people leaving the beach near a tsunami evacuation route sign pointing inland.

Division of Land Resource Protection

Our Division of Land Resource Protection (DLRP) grant programs helped channel millions of dollars to organizations working on agricultural land conservation, emissions and groundwater use reduction, and riparian land and streambed restoration.

Photo of a watershed on a newly protected conservation easement administered
through Conservation’s Sustainable Ag Lands Conservation Program.

Most recently, the Sustainable Agricultural Lands Conservation (SALC) Program — co-administered by DLRP and the Strategic Growth Council — awarded $74 million in grants to protect 54,000 acres of agricultural land in 17 counties from development.

Doing so has the associated benefit of reducing emissions. The SALC program also issues planning and capacity-building grants. DLRP staff reviewed nearly 60 applications for the available funding.

Happy cows enjoying newly protected agricultural land in California. Thanks to grant funding administered through CalConservation, these cows won’t have to share their pasture with an apartment complex.

California Geologic Energy Management Division

The Department oversees California oil, gas, and geothermal energy production through this division.

Among other highlights in 2022, CalGEM secured $25 million in federal grant funding to decommission many of the state’s orphan wells – those that must be permanently sealed to protect the environment but do not a financially responsible owner to pay for the work.

Additionally, CalGEM held 35 virtual community meetings and workshops around major initiatives; launched a multi-agency task force to identify and respond to methane leaks from oil infrastructure to protect public safety and the environment; launched a Community Concern webpage and mailbox; and developed emergency regulations to support SB 1137, which requires setbacks between oil and gas facilities and the surrounding communities.

Division of Mine Reclamation

Conservation’s Division of Mine Reclamation (DMR) funded an effort to seal an old 1,400-foot-deep mine shaft that opened near the community of Sutter Creek’s main thoroughfare.

It also assessed more than 3,700 mining-related structures and items in the field for potential hazards, as well as conducting surveys to protect cultural resources and animals that call old mines home including bats, which contribute tremendously to California agriculture.

DMR reviewed more than 1,000 documents and reports for the roughly 1,100 surface mining operations throughout the state — an important step in enforcing rules designed to protect the environment.

Staff worked with local governments to create reclamation plans for nine new operations and ensure that 15 former mining sites will be transitioned to a more natural or beneficial end use.

Additionally, DMR trained more than 60 representatives of various lead agencies, consultants, and operators to conduct proper and thorough surface mine inspections.

Mine Inspector Training Day in the Field. Part of a two-day workshop with both classroom and fieldwork instruction.

Projects on the Horizon

Conservation began a new program that will turn forest biomass into clean fuels.

Eight of the 19 grant applications received were recommended for $500,000 each in project planning and development funding.

We are also co-hosting, with the U.S. Forest Service, a workgroup developing policies and investment priorities on woody biomass utilization for the Governor’s Office and the state’s forest task force.

We at Conservation are looking forward to another impactful year in 2023.

Thanks for being part of our accomplishments over the past year and cheers to together moving California to greater climate resilience in the new year.

Leave a Reply