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The Pac Sun’s been tracking Napa Sen. Bill Dodd’s SB 253 since he introduced it early in the legislative session; this week the bill passed a key vote in the Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee. Now it’s headed to the Appropriations Committee.

SB 253 is a bill of potentially great interest to the farmers and ranchers of Marin, as Dodd’s bill sets out to enhance conservation efforts at California’s 76,000 farms through a set of incentives “and technical assistance that help wildlife and the environment,” the Senator says in statement this week. Dodd introduced his bill, he says, after similar efforts underway took a nosedive in the aftermath of the 2008 economic meltdown and never recovered. He’s looking to reanimate old-fashioned conservation efforts at the ground level in a $54 billion state agricultural industry that generates $100 billion annually in economic activity.

“Good stewardship of rural lands is crucial to the sustainability and economic vitality of our state,” says Dodd in a statement, further noting that his bill would provide assistance to anyone in the ag sector who wants to voluntarily make “wildlife friendly improvements on their land”—including wildlife that swims. Dodd claims his bill would help improve water quality and erosion-control efforts, while also conserving groundwater. The California Association of Resource Conservation Districts is a supporter of SB 253 and its executive director, Karen Buhr, says in a statement that “what’s really important is that farming and ranching have the potential to be part of the solution for climate change, habitat protection and so many of the environmental challenges we face in California.” —Tom Gogola

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