The Land Conservation Commitment
The Land Conservation Commitment (LCC) is PG&E's promise to protect and conserve approximately 140,000 acres of watershed lands associated with its hydropower projects in the Sierra and Cascades, and approximately 655 acres of land in the Carrizzo Plains.
The LCC is part of the December 2003 settlement between the California Public Utilities Commission and PG&E to bring the utility out of bankruptcy. Text of the LCC can be found in paragraph 17 and Appendix E of the Settlement Agreement.
The LCC created a non-profit corporation, the Pacific Forest and Watershed Lands Stewardship Council (Stewardship Council), to oversee preparation of the Land Conservation Plan and decide the future status of the lands.
The Public Values To Be Conserved
According to the Land Conservation Commitment, the watershed lands are to be conserved for a broad range of beneficial public values, including
- the protection of the natural habitat of fish, wildlife, and plants,
- the preservation of open space,
- outdoor recreation by the general public and reasonable access for recreation,
- sustainable forestry,
- agricultural uses, and
- historic values.
How the Public Values Will Be Conserved
Approximately 95,000 acres of the 140,000 watershed lands contained in the LCC are part of PG&E's hydropower project boundaries or otherwise essential to the operation of their facilities. The options to protect and conserve these lands may be different tha the lands not connected to PG&E's hydro operations.
In general, the watershed lands may either be:
- retained by PG&E and protected by conservation easements, or
- donated by PG&E to public agencies or non-profit conservation organizations.
Each recipient of a conservation easement or land donation must prove the funding and other capacity to maintain the property in order to preserve and/or enhance the beneficial public values of the resource. Each land transaction must be "tax neutral" to the relevant county.
If the Stewardship Council determines that the watershed lands have no beneficial public values, they may be sold to private entities.
Rights Reserved by PG&E
For the conservation easements, PG&E reserves the right to continue operating and maintaining its hydropower projects and associated water delivery facilities. Included in this right are project replacements and improvements required:
- to meet future water delivery requirements for power generation and consumptive water use by existing users, or
- to comply with any FERC license, FERC license renewal, or other regulatory requirements.
In addition, the easements will honor all existing agreements for economic uses, including agreements for consumptive water deliveries.
How much land might be donated?
The total area of land associated with PG&E's hydropower facilities is about 95,000 acres (52,000 acres are actually inside FERC project boundaries), which PG&E reserves the right to retain. However, the Stewardship Council can recommend, through the Land Conservation Plan, to split the parcels including land on both sides at the FERC boundaries