- Author: Devii R. Rao
The intent of the Compass is to improve coordination among conservation organizations, support working lands, and advance conservation with interested parties. Basically, it is group of agencies and non-profits that want to work together to help each other achieve their different goals, specifically in the Pajaro River Watershed. The photo to the right shows the Draft Goals from the group (click the photo to enlarge it). The goals were related to
- water resources
- agriculture/working landscapes
- soil health
The Compass organizers want to make sure this effort benefits agricultural producers as well as the environment. They will be making a concerted effort, in the near future, to meet with farmers and ranchers to learn about and incorporate your goals.
You may be wondering what the Compass folks actually want to do on the ground. I've been wondering about that as well. Here are some ideas that came out of the meeting:
- Look for win/win projects, where there is a benefit to the land and a benefit to the rancher/farmer
- Help the San Benito Resource Conservation District (RCD) get funding to do weed control projects (yellow starthistle, tumbleweed, tamarisk, etc.) on ranches
- Help get more funding to clean out and maintain stock ponds
- Help the RCD develop a permit coordination program so permitting for pond maintenance and other projects doesn't take as long
- Find a way to reduce the amount of paperwork that producers need to do for these kinds of conservation projects
- Help get funding for conservation easements so ranches can stay in the family for future generations
- Try to develop short-term contracts to pay producers for the good land management they are already doing or for making small management changes that benefit plants, wildlife, or water quality. These short-term contracts could be between 1 and 10 years. That way producers could test it out and see if it's something they are comfortable with. This could be a good alternative to conservation easements.
One thing that became clear at the meeting is that the Pajaro Compass is a work-in-progress and there is still plenty of opportunity for more people to weigh in and help guide the outcome. They will be publishing a document in early summer that will summarize the process and vision that they have been working on for the past year. In June they will start hosting meetings for anyone who wants to join the conversation. They're also looking for more ways to involve landowners and managers going forward.
If you have questions or want to share your ideas/suggestions with the Compass organizers, please get in touch with Chris Coburn, Abby Ramsden, or Matt Freeman. You can also click here to download photos from the recent meeting or to see a list of people who have attended Compass meetings.
RCD Santa Cruz County
831.464.2950 X 17
The Nature Conservancy
Santa Clara Open S