3408(h) Land Retirement
The Land Retirement Program
The San Joaquin Valley Drainage Program, established in 1984, combined federal and state efforts to investigate drainage issues in the Valley, and to identify possible strategies for addressing these issues (SJVDP, 1990). The program estimated that by 2040 approximately 160,000 to 225,000 ha (400,000 to 554,000 ac) would become unsuitable for irrigated agriculture if no actions were taken to remedy drainage problems.
The Central Valley Project Improvement Act (CVPIA), enacted in 1992 as Public Law 102-575 Title 34, Section 3408(h), authorized the purchase of land, water and other property interests from willing sellers who received CVP water. Such lands would achieve the program goals to reduce drainage, enhance fish and wildlife resources and make water available for other CVPIA purposes.
Land retirement (i.e., the removal of lands from irrigated agriculture) was proposed as one strategy to reduce drainage-related problems. In this approach, lands that were characterized by low productivity, poor drainage, shallow water tables, and high groundwater selenium concentrations would be retired from irrigated agriculture through a willing seller program.
The Land Retirement Program (LRP) was developed cooperatively by an interagency Department of Interior team with representatives from the Bureau of Reclamation (Mid-Pacific Region), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Sacramento Office), and the Bureau of Land Management (California Office). The Land Retirement Team (LRT) was charged with the task of implementing the Land Retirement Program.
The Land Retirement Demonstration Project (LRDP) was implemented at two sites in the western San Joaquin Valley and the Tulare Lake Basin to study the environmental impacts of land retirement. The California State University - Stanislaus - Endangered Species Recovery Program (CSUS-ESRP) has served as a major research partner with the Land Retirement Team in developing effective means for restoring retired farmlands. Data from the LRDP will be used to inform decisions regarding implementation of land retirement at larger scales as a means to address agricultural drainage problems in the San Joaquin Valley.
February 20, 2007