FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
(Sacramento, Calif., March 10, 2023)—Assemblymember Dawn Addis (D-Morro Bay) today introduced a bill that would offer financial incentives and technical assistance to ranchers and other private landowners to implement practices that restore grassland habitat, soil health and biodiversity on some of California’s most endangered and sensitive landscapes. Assembly Bill (AB) 720 would authorize the Wildlife Conservation Board to fund local programs to contract with ranchers on lands deemed especially important to preserving grassland birds and other wildlife.
“I’m proud to author Assembly Bill 720 to support sustainable grazing in California,” Addis said. “With 61 million acres of rangeland across California, it’s crucial that we take these important steps to protect our agricultural biodiversity while bolstering California’s ranching economy for years to come.”
The program would encourage regenerative agricultural practices similar to those promoted by Audubon’s Conservation Ranching Program (ACR). The program partners with ranchers to adopt techniques including rotational grazing and riparian restoration. These practices increase the role of grasslands as an important carbon sink while providing habitat for imperiled grassland birds, whose numbers have declined by 50 percent over the past 100 years. In return, ranchers participating in ACR can brand their meat with Audubon’s “Grazed on bird-friendly land” seal. Nationally, ACR has enrolled over 100 ranches covering 2.7 million acres of land, and Audubon California is in the process of enrolling 21 properties. ACR-certified beef is available for sale nationwide online.
“With most of California’s 61 million acres of rangelands in private hands, enlisting the help of ranchers and other private landowners is key to preserving habitat, sequestering carbon and maintaining the plants and animals that make our state a biodiversity hotspot,” said Pelayo Álvarez, California director of Audubon’s Conservation Ranching Program. “AB 720 is an opportunity to partner with private ranchers to help them manage their properties with birds and wildlife in mind and to act as stewards of the land they love.”
According to one Audubon study, tens of millions of migrating land birds rely on ranchland and other open spaces of California’s Central Valley, including 60 percent of all Tree Swallows, 80 percent of Lawrence’s Goldfinches, and numerous other resident and migratory species. However, multiple studies show a steep decline in bird populations that depend on them, in California and beyond. The number of birds in North America has dropped by one-third – a billion individual birds -- over the past 50 years, likely due in large part to loss of suitable habitat. At the same time, Audubon research shows that remaining birds face an uncertain future as the continent warms.
Jason Howe, firstname.lastname@example.org; 415-595-9245
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The National Audubon Society protects birds and the places they need, today and tomorrow. Audubon works throughout the Americas using science, advocacy, education, and on-the-ground conservation. State programs, nature centers, chapters, and partners give Audubon an unparalleled wingspan that reaches millions of people each year to inform, inspire, and unite diverse communities in conservation action. A nonprofit conservation organization since 1905, Audubon believes in a world in which people and wildlife thrive. Learn more at www.audubon.org and on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @audubonsociety.