California Department of Fish and Wildlife

California Landowner Incentive Program (Phase 2)

Agricultural riparian buffers initiative.


The California Department of Fish and Wildlife's 2006 State Wildlife Action Plan highlights the importance of restoring and managing riparian habitat, stating that no other habitat type is more critical to California's wildlife. More than 225 species depend on California's riparian habitat, including 42 at-risk species in the Central Valley. These species use riparian habitat for migrating, nesting, feeding and rearing young.

In addition to providing fish and wildlife habitat, riparian areas control soil erosion, filter pollution and regulate stream flows. Riparian buffers help local farmers meet water quality standards by capturing excess runoff composed of sediments, nutrients and fertilizers before they reach waterways. Moreover, these buffers capture and reduce the amount of flood debris deposited on adjacent farmland and also reduce costs associated with clean up.


Phase Two of the California Landowner Incentive Program (LIP) is a voluntary, incentive-based program that: 1) provides funding to restore marginal or flood-prone farmland to riparian buffers, 2) disburses annual incentive funding to assist with costs of habitat management and the loss of income associated with idling farmland, and 3) provides technical assistance to restore and manage riparian buffers.

Program Eligibility

  • Properties must be privately owned, occur within the Central Valley and belocated directly adjacent to the Sacramento or San Joaquin Rivers, or their major tributaries.
  • Properties must have been grazed or planted cropland/orchard in three of the previous five years.
  • Properties must be able to provide a minimum width of 50 feet adjacent to the river/stream for riparian buffer restoration. A maximum width of 200 feet will be considered for enrollment.
  • Cattle producers must be willing to exclude cattle from the project site (off-site watering devices and fencing can be included in the restoration design).
  • Landowners must be willing to enter into a 10-year agreement to protect and manage the restored riparian buffers; conservation easements are also available for longer-term protection.

Project Selection

Individual projects will be selected through a competitive ranking process developed and implemented cooperatively by the LIP Ranking Committee, consisting of the LIP Coordinator and representatives of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, California Wildlife Conservation Board, and California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Project Administration

Restoration - Riparian restoration will be funded 100% by the Wildlife Conservation Board's Riparian Habitat Conservation Program (RHCP). Restoration plans will be developed by LIP biologists, RHCP and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service personnel, and the private landowner. Restorations will be completed by local non-governmental organizations, Resource Conservation Districts (RCDs), or other government entity. These entities will be responsible for hiring all contractors to construct the restoration project including earth moving, irrigation construction, and planting native vegetation.

Incentive Payments - Annual incentive payments will help offset costs of idling agricultural land and supporting newly restored habitat. Payments are based on current agricultural land rental rates and habitat management costs for particular sites. Depending on crop type and rental rate, annual incentive payments can approach a maximum of $400/acre/year for the ten year duration of the program.

Technical Assistance & Management Plans - Following the restoration, LIP biologists will meet on-site with landowners to develop annual habitat management plans. Landowners will be responsible for implementing habitat management activities to ensure the successful establishment and maintenance of riparian habitat. Habitat management may include; mowing and herbicide spraying for weed control, irrigating newly-planted trees and shrubs, excluding livestock and maintaining project infrastructure. Landowners must comply with the habitat management plan to receive the annual incentive payment provided by LIP.


The California LIP is a CDFW program funded by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the coordination of which has been contracted through Ducks Unlimited.

How to Apply:

To access an application or to find out more about LIP management practices, eligibility and incentive payments, click here. Applications will be accepted until January 30, 2009.


1812 Ninth Street
Sacramento, CA 95811
(916) 324-3771