A representative of the State Water Contractors suggested growing tules to recreate peat on some Delta islands and getting credit for carbon sequestration. It was noted that tules aren’t an ag commodity and that there is still no market for carbon sequestration. But DWR could try it on their land.
The water contractors see a huge demand for recreation in the Delta and would like to focus on the Primary Zone for habitat restoration. They were reminded that the Delta is prime farmland and must be integrated with the economy of the larger region. And as Patterson noted, you can’t effectively transition farm workers to interpretive center staff.
Council member Patrick Johnson suggested that conversion of ag land is always problematic, whether for urbanization or for habitat. He wondered why there is little pressure for mitigation of land converted for development, but mitigation is a big issue when there is an attempt to set aside land for habitat in the Delta.
Of course, local governments typically do require some mitigation for land converted for development. But the more meaningful answer to Johnston’s question is that when local governments convert land for development (or habitat), they make the decision, bear the costs, and enjoy the benefits. When the State Water Contractors, through the Delta Stewardship Council, convert land for habitat, exporters and the state make the decision and enjoy the benefits, but the Delta region bears the costs.