2009 California Public Resources Code - Section 12210-12211 :: Article 2. Findings And Declarations
12210. The Legislature hereby finds and declares all of the following: (a) Privately owned forest lands comprise nearly half of California's 32.6 million acres of forest land, and include some of the state's most important and productive forest resources, including timber, fish and wildlife habitat, watersheds, and climate benefits. It is in the interest of the state to provide and maintain a favorable climate for long-term investment in forest resources. (b) The importance of private forest lands to California's economy and environment has been recognized for many years, and more recently for almost three decades by the Z'berg-Nejedly Forest Practice Act of 1973 (Chapter 8 (commencing with Section 4511) of Part 2 of Division 4), the California Timber Productivity Act of 1982 (Chapter 6.7 (commencing with Section 51100) of Part 1 of Division 1 of Title 5 of the Government Code), and other statutes and policies. (c) California's private forest lands and woodlands are threatened by continued population growth and changes in land use patterns, including parcel size reductions, residential and commercial development, and by changes in forest cover. (d) Heirs of forest landowners frequently find it necessary to harvest their timber prematurely and excessively, in order to pay estate taxes that can account for up to 55 percent of an estate's value. (e) Continuing statewide population growth, existing land use and tax policies, regulations, and other factors create significant pressure for an increase in development conversions in forest lands of environmental and economic significance. (f) Conservation easements have been successfully used around the United States to achieve voluntary protection of open space, historical sites, and natural and aquatic resources. (g) Conservation easements enable landowners to receive financial benefits for voluntarily restricting specific development rights and land that, in turn, contributes to the conservation of natural resources for future generations. Financial benefits to landowners can be realized through a sale or donation, or a combination of both a sale or donation of a conservation easement. (h) A program to encourage and make possible the long-term conservation of forest lands and all associated natural resources is a necessary part of the state's land protection policies and programs, and it is in the public interest to expend money for that purpose. (i) Funding is a necessary component of this program. (j) The federal Forest Legacy Program (16 U.S.C. Sec. 2103c) conserves forest land threatened with conversion and development by providing federal matching funds for the acquisition of conservation easements or other interests in land from willing landowners, subject to state guidelines. (k) The state completed the "California Forest Legacy Program Assessment of Need" in 1995 following an extensive analysis and widespread public input. That assessment was submitted to and accepted by the United States Department of Agriculture. (l) California's forests can play an important role in addressing global climate change and helping the state meet its emission reduction targets by removing and storing carbon dioxide, a key greenhouse gas. (m) The California Forest Legacy Program Act of 2000, established pursuant to Senate Bill 1832 of the 1999-2000 Regular Session of the Legislature, which expired on January 1, 2007, was successful in helping to protect approximately 12,000 acres of California forests by facilitating the expenditure of almost four million dollars ($4,000,000) in federal funds. 12211. It is the intent of the Legislature, in enacting this division and the California Forest Legacy Program, to protect forest lands and aquatic resources in California by focusing on all of the following priorities: (a) Encouraging the long-term conservation of productive forest lands by providing an incentive to owners of private forest lands to prevent future conversions of forest land and forest resources. (b) Protection of wildlife habitat, rare plants, and biodiversity. (c) Maintenance of habitat connectivity and related values needed to ensure the viability of wildlife populations across landscapes and regions. (d) Protection of riparian habitats, oak woodlands, ecological old growth forests, and other key forest types and seral stages that are poorly represented across landscapes and regions, and that play a key role in supporting biodiversity. (e) Protection of water quality, fisheries, and water supplies. (f) Maintenance and restoration of natural ecosystem functions. (g) Encouraging improvements to enhance long-term sustainable forest uses while providing forest areas with increased protection against other land uses that conflict with forest uses.
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