California Department of Fish and Wildlife

Voluntary Local Programs for Agricultural Landowners

Agricultural landowners (farmers and ranchers) who want to enhance habitat on their property can be protected from additional regulatory restrictions for state-listed species. The California Endangered Species Act offers such protection under the Voluntary Local Program (Fish and Game Code Section 2086 and Title 14 Section 786.0 et seq.). Landowners whose land is included in a Department-approved Voluntary Local Program to enhance and maintain listed species habitat are not prohibited from incidental take (injure or kill) of state-listed as long as the take occurs on a farm or ranch during the course of routine and ongoing agricultural activities.

The Voluntary Local Program is CDFW’s compliment to the federal Safe Harbor Agreement Program sponsored under the federal Endangered Species Act. The goal of both the state and federal programs is to encourage landowners to voluntarily enhance habitat for listed species, while maintaining viable agricultural operations. As a further incentive, the Voluntary Local Program allows landowners to withdraw from the program without penalty.

CDFW issued the first Voluntary Local Program to the Alameda Resource Conservation District on October 8, 2012. The Alameda County VLP provides take authorization, under CESA, to participating farmers and ranchers while following the management practices for two species listed as threatened in California, the California tiger salamander and the Alameda whipsnake.

Steer in Vernal Pool

For more information, contact:
Ryan Mathis
Senior Environmental Scientist
Habitat Conservation Planning Branch
California Department of Fish and Wildlife
(916) 651-8711
Ryan.Mathis@wildlife.ca.gov