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Delta Conservancy is an Important Piece of Delta Puzzle

May and June 2012

The Delta Conservancy was created to act as a primary state agency to implement ecosystem restoration in the Delta, and to support efforts that advance environmental protection and the economic well-being of Delta residents. The California state legislature created the Delta Conservancy in 2009, in the same package of bills that created the Delta Stewardship Council (Council). By law, the Delta Conservancy’s strategic plan must be consistent with the Council’s Delta Plan.

California’s conservancies are public institutions created to enhance major regional landscapes. They are able to act flexibly, in coordination with private businesses and not-for-profit organizations, while advancing the public good.

Nearly all conservancies have the powers to acquire, exchange, and improve land from willing sellers, but the Delta Conservancy is uniquely required to “use conservation easements to accomplish ecosystem restoration whenever feasible.” The Delta Conservancy is the only state conservancy explicitly empowered to acquire water rights and “take or fund action” outside of the formal boundaries of its region, subject to certain conditions. The Delta Conservancy does not have the power to exercise eminent domain.

The Delta Conservancy’s Executive Officer, Campbell Ingram, recently appeared before the Council to discuss its draft strategic plan. His presentation was Agenda Item 7 at the March 29, 2012 Council meeting.

“We appreciate your process,” Ingram said to the Council. “We’ve provided comments [to the draft Delta Plan] and we’ve seen changes as a result. Now we are looking forward to your input on our strategic plan.”

The Delta Conservancy’s strategic plan seeks to enhance economic vitality through tourism; promote environmental education; and assist in the preservation, conservation and restoration of the region’s living resources.

Council staff intends to provide comments to the Delta Conservancy’s draft strategic plan in summer 2012.

Coequal goals

The Delta Stewardship Council was created in legislation to achieve the state mandated coequal goals for the Delta. "'Coequal goals' means the two goals of providing a more reliable water supply for California and protecting, restoring, and enhancing the Delta ecosystem. The coequal goals shall be achieved in a manner that protects and enhances the unique cultural, recreational, natural resource, and agricultural values of the Delta as an evolving place." (CA Water Code §85054)