The upcoming primary election on June 7 will have on it a local ballot measure – Measure A – that, if passed, will have a significant positive impact on the economic prospects of Calaveras County. This ballot measure will ask the voters of Calaveras County to approve the formation of a resource conversation district.
Before discussing the merits of the district, it’s important to state some facts and what a resource conservation district is and is not:
• Such districts are California special districts. They are public agencies subject to all the laws that govern public agencies in California.
• A resource conservation district is dedicated to natural resource management and agricultural support in the county.
• A resource conservation district is not a taxing body. Aside from the cost of the election, there will be no local tax dollars spent to maintain it.
• A resource conservation district is not a regulatory agency and has no regulatory powers.
• The district will be made up of a board of directors who are residents of Calaveras County.
• The district will have the authority to enter into contracts and agreements with other public agencies and private groups for the benefit of its constituents. borrow money for projects and own land.
• The constituents of the district are the residents of Calaveras County.
• The boundaries of the district are the boundaries of Calaveras County, exclusive of the city of Angels Camp and East Bay Municipal Utility District lands.
• The district is not another layer of government but a focused group working for the benefit of anyone interested in resource management, open space and agricultural development and support. It doesn’t deal with roads, mental health, education, public safety or any of the tasks that are the responsibility of Calaveras County government.
• As a California special district, the resource conservation district will be subject to the requirements of the Brown Act (open meeting law) and other state laws.
• The district will be governed by a seven-member board of directors. These directors will be chosen at large rather than by district residency. The initial board will be appointed by the board of supervisors from a pool of interested and qualified candidates. Members of the first board will begin with staggered terms to ensure that there will always be experienced board members.
• As a special district, the resource conservation district will be governed by its own set of rules based on California’s special districts law. These rules will be established by the newly appointed board.
• The district will act as an independent governing body subject only to its stated mission and the laws of California.
• The district will be self-financed through private contributions, grants and fees for service.
• Calaveras County is only one of two counties in California without a resource conservation district.
It’s not likely that Calaveras County will ever become another Silicon Valley. We’re not likely to have an interstate highway run through our county, which would be an artery of commerce. Even with sea level rise, we’re not likely to ever be a port of entry.
What we are is a resource rich, agriculturally diverse rural community. The opportunities to develop these resources into an engine of economic strength are huge. The formation of the district will enable the development of these economic resources to be a reality and a major contributing factor to the future of Calaveras County.
There are numerous groups and organizations in the county that represent the interests of specific agricultural endeavors. These different groups represent cattle ranchers and other livestock producers, vintners, fruit and nut producers, timber managers and specialty agriculturists such as organic and truck farmers. The resource conservation district will represent all of these diverse groups, addressing common interests and giving public agency support to their various concerns and needs. Indeed, the board will most likely be made up of representatives of these diverse groups.
In addition to this representation, the district will also work on watershed issues, rural water supply, soil protection, invasive species and conflict resolution. The district will develop a groundwater monitoring plan with other agencies in the county. It will support local residents who, dependent on ground water as their sole source of water, will be assured that this supply of water will always be available. The district will support and represent local residents and agriculture in addressing regulatory mandates that, though possibly necessary in other parts of the state, have no bearing on Calaveras County and would only create a burden for its residents. There are many more activities and actions that a resource conservation district can develop based upon the need as defined by the rural community.
For further questions and comments, please contact me. Please support the formation of the resource conservation distsrict. There is no downside.
Bob Dean is a former director of Calaveras County Water District. You can reach him at 754-5887 or email@example.com.