Nonprofit Cannabis for Conservation Secures $2.5 Million to Assist Small Cannabis Farmers in Humboldt and Trinity Counties

California PRESS RELEASE – Cannabis for Conservation (CFC), a Humboldt County based 501(c)(3) environmental nonprofit, has secured $2.5 million in grants funds to assist small cannabis farmers through the California Department of Fish & Wildlife’s Cannabis Restoration Grant Program via the Qualified Cultivator Funding Opportunity. The two grants, Implementing Drought Resilience Strategies on Humboldt County Cannabis Farms and Provisional to Annual License Transitions for Trinity County Cultivators, will collectively assist 89 farms across eight priority watersheds with environmental work. 

CFC’s mission is to conserve persisting natural resources, restore degraded ecosystems and educate cannabis communities to prevent further ecological harm from unsustainable cultivation. “We see a great opportunity for conservation with this nascent industry, especially given that many farmers own large tracts of land in one of the most biodiverse ecoregions on the planet,” said Jackee Riccio, the co-founder and executive director of CFC.

The Drought Resilience Program will directly improve sustainable water consumption on 17 farms through installing rainwater catchment systems, increasing water storage capacity, and/or hardening and improving irrigation. This will improve on-farm drought resilience and reduce direct impacts to water sources during low-flow periods. None of these water improvements will be used to increase cultivation footprints, farm size, or number of licenses, but rather reduce or eliminate extraction from water resources during dry periods and in some cases, convert farms to 100% water storage.

The Provisional to Annual License Program will assist 72 Trinity cultivators in achieving an annual County and DCC license. The grant will provide professional help to small farmers to finalize annual licenses, including completing documentation for CEQA compliance and Special-Status Species Mitigation and allow for a Technical Advisory Committee between CDFW, CFC and the county to quickly resolve licensing obstacles that arise.

CFC’s applied conservation approach prioritizes collaborative, on-farm research, biodiversity enhancements and environmental education. In bringing together scientists and farmers to implement peer-reviewed conservation practices, benefits are provided to wildlife, land and water. Said Riccio, “Working with farmers and transforming monocultures into functional agroecosystems is a priority strategy among conservationists globally and we’re doing our part in that here, in the heart of cannabis country to return to the back-to-the-land values that this industry was born from.”

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