Last week, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife approved the Mid–Sacramento Valley Regional Conservation Investment Strategy (RCIS), making it the third ever RCIS to be approved in the state. RCISs are a critical tool to advance conservation, improve mitigation, and streamline permitting across California.
The Mid-Sacramento Valley RCIS covers portions of Sutter and Colusa counties and is the first comprehensive conservation strategy for the region. Agriculture plays a central role in the economy, environment, and culture of the region and working lands provide important ecosystem services and habitat for native fish and wildlife. The science-based, non–binding, and voluntary RCIS creates new ways to unlock the conservation value of working lands, benefiting biodiversity and ecosystem processes while maintaining farm productivity. Under the RCIS, farmers that create or restore habitat on their land can earn mitigation credit agreements (MCAs) and then sell those credits to agencies seeking to meet permitting requirements.
After a three-year collaborative effort, the approval of the Mid-Sacramento Valley RCIS marks an important step towards advancing working lands conservation strategies in the state. Throughout the process, Environmental Incentives worked closely with our partners Environmental Defense Fund, Reclamation District 108 (the RCIS Sponsor), and the RCIS Steering Committee, to ensure the plan aligned with regional goals to protect habitat, invest in the agricultural community, and safeguard communities from flooding. Going forward, the Mid-Sacramento Valley RCIS can serve as a scalable model for other agricultural regions in California to recognize the value of working lands as a conservation resource.