The biggest news is the allocation of $25 million for the Riparian Grant program. The Recreation and Conservation Office also received $25 million to continue their work on salmon recovery.
This upcoming biennium has the most significant budget SCC has seen and some of the funding includes hiring more commission and district staff and more money than ever to support district work.
Some other highlights include:
- $30 million to expand climate-smart livestock management practices including anaerobic digesters on dairy farms, increasing the SFF budget to provide more TA/FA to producers, and funding research and demonstration projects that focus on innovative and beneficial practices that reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
- $1 million allocated for the Ag Science program (or the Science Hub, as we have been calling it internally). The idea is that this group of talented scientists will work collaboratively to better quantify the applied and social sciences of voluntary conservation and the importance of adaptive management on agricultural land at the watershed level.
- $3 million for VSP-specific projects and an increase in funding all around to account for the opening up of new counties to the program
- Disappointing funding of $1 million on CTA, but the money is ongoing from year to year, which is a relief and something SCC plans on continuing to pursue.
- Ongoing projects are mostly or entirely funded. The budget supported most of SCC's ongoing programs like CREP, Shellfish, and the SCC programs at or near our initial request.
- $15 million invested in wildfire-related programs like the Firewise program.
- $4 million for FPLA and the Office of Farmland Preservation to continue their work on purchasing agricultural easements
This budget shows that the legislature is confident in conservation districts' work and wants to invest more in this very important and ongoing work.
It's not over 'til it's over
Even though this budget looks good for SCC and conservation districts, there is still time for the Governor to veto line items in the budget documents. SCC staff haven't heard anything like that planned, but nothing is guaranteed until the Governor signs the final budget. Once the proverbial ink is dry, we will send out one last legislative news!
- What is the final funding allocated for SCC programs? (budget table & narratives)
- If you really want to get in the weeds, you can check out the budget documents as passed by the legislature: operating budget, capital budget and transportation budget.
- SB 5353 - Concerning the voluntary stewardship program was signed by the Governor on April 25.