Agricultural Conservation & Preservation

The California High-Speed Rail Authority is committed to working with local, state and federal agencies and local stakeholders to develop a high-speed rail system that preserves open spaces and environmental resources that make California golden. Because the project is starting work in the Central Valley in the summer of 2013, the Authority is taking several steps to preserve farm and agricultural lands and open spaces in the area.

Department of Conservation Agreement

On November 15, 2012, the Authority Board of Directors approved an agreement with the Department of Conservation (DOC) for implementing agricultural preservation. This agreement will identify suitable agricultural land for mitigation of project impacts and fund the purchase of agricultural conservation easements from willing participants. On November 25, 2014, the DOC and the Authority announced that they would begin soliciting farmland mitigation proposals. To learn more about this program, please visit the Department of Conservationís Agricultural Land Mitigation Program High-Speed Rail Authority webpage.

DOC Agreement

Authority and Madera/Merced County Agricultural Interest Settlement

In April 2013, the Authority, the Madera County Farm Bureau, Merced County Farm Bureau, Chowchilla Water District, Preserve Our Heritage and the Fagundes parties announced that they have reached a settlement agreement, ending the final California Environmental Quality Act lawsuit challenging the Merced to Fresno project section Environmental Impact Report. The settlement agreement is a mutually beneficial agreement that integrates local expertise into the agricultural mitigation for the project section and provides protections for the agricultural community in Madera and Merced County and the Central Valley. The agreement provides for the preservation of important farmland and mitigation of effects of high-speed rail construction on agricultural operations. This includes a $4 million agriculture and land management fund.

Agricultural Working Group

The Agricultural Working Group (AWG) was established in July, 2011 to assist the California High-Speed Rail Authority (Authority) with an independent advisory group that could address the issues being raised by the agricultural community.  The representatives of this group are specialists and experts in their specific fields of agriculture. They include University, governmental agencies, county agricultural commissioners and agri-business representatives.

One of the goals of the group was to address key issues raised by the Central Valley agricultural community. The Central Valley identified specific agricultural issues that need to be addressed and resolved with the input and expertise of those who know the industry. The AWG used the agricultural expertise of Valley resource specialists to enhance the EIR/EIS process and answer potential agricultural impacts.

The AWG’s effort is represented by the six white papers, developed with the input and review of many. These white papers provide substantial responses to the agricultural community’s concerns. As with all studies, additional work can be undertaken to expand their usefulness.
Thus, these white papers are not considered all-encompassing and do not provide answers for every question the agricultural industry will seek, but focused on key issues identified by the Central Valley agricultural community.

At the Authority Board of Directors meeting on September 11, 2012, Fresno County Farmer John Diener, the AGW Chairman, presented the white papers which covered bees and pollination, induced winds impacts, pesticide use, agricultural equipment transport and movement, irrigation systems and dairy impacts.

Agricultural White Papers

Memos & Letters

Meeting Agendas & Materials