The Assembly heard a new proposal on Thursday for a grant program offering incentives for managing lands for ecosystem benefits when no longer farmed.

The bill is in response to recent studies finding at least 500,000 acres of land is likely to be fallowed over the next 20 years as SGMA is implemented.

Along with incentivizing wildlife restoration projects, this money could help farmers transition to dryland farming, rangeland, plant cover crops or restoring floodplains to recharge groundwater banks.

"It's important that we step up and help avoid economic devastation in our most vulnerable communities," said Asm. Rudy Salas, D-Bakersfield. (above, in 2019)

Both the Environmental Defense Fund and Rural County Representatives of California testified in support. The bill had no opposition and passed unanimously from the Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee. But its next stop is Appropriations. Given the budget reality, the bill’s future is uncertain at best.