Development Services

If you are looking to create jobs, talk with us. We process Building Permits including Plan Review, Inspections and coordination with other agencies to issue Permits. We process Development Applications including environmental review, provide zoning information and support long-range planning through the County’s General Plan. Code Enforcement responds to Building, Land Use, Abandoned Vehicles, Noise, Nuisance Abatement and the County’s Restrictions on Cultivation of Medical Marijuana Ordinance complaints.

Sustainable Agricultural Lands Conservation (SALC) Strategy


Butte County Sustainable Agricultural Lands Conservation (SALC) Strategy Wins APA California Planning Award

What is the SALC Strategy?

The SALC Strategy is a set of living tools and information intended to assist farmers, ranchers, and other members of the public in voluntarily conserving agricultural lands, and in implementing farming and ranching practices that will help achieve the key sustainability goals of carbon sequestration, greenhouse gas emissions reductions, water conservation, and groundwater recharge. Sustainable farming and ranching practices not only benefit the environment, but can benefit agricultural producers as well. There are financial incentives available to farmers who switch to sustainable practices. Butte County has identified these incentives and produced a library of information to connect producers to these incentive programs.  On October 24, 2017, the Board of Supervisors approved the SALC Strategy for Butte County...Resolution 17-182.  Click on any of the links on this page to learn more about Sustainable Agricultural Lands Conservation in Butte County.



Introduction to the Butte County Sustainable Agricultural Lands Conservation (SALC) Strategy



Agricultural Lands Conservation


 Key Goals of the SALC Strategy

The Sustainable Agricultural Lands Conservation (SALC) Strategy was created to conserve agricultural lands in Butte County while achieving four key goals:

  • Carbon Sequestration
  • Greenhouse Gas Emissions (GHGs) Reductions
  • Water Conservation
  • Groundwater Recharge

View the information below to find out more about achieving these sustainability goals; including financial incentives available to farmers, ranchers, and property owners for implementing key sustainable agricultural practices.

Carbon Sequestration: Carbon sequestration is the process by which carbon is stored in the soil through plant intake, lifecycle, and decomposition. Farming and ranching practices that sequester carbon lock it in the vegetation and soil, offsetting GHG emissions. Rangelands are prime candidates for carbon sequestration. Butte County has large areas of rangelands. Ranching practices that sequester carbon, such as compost applications or rotational grazing, provide both agricultural and environmental benefits. Rangelands can sequester nearly twice as much carbon as forest lands (NRCS).


Carbon Sequestration: SALC Strategy Goals


Greenhouse Gases: Greenhouse gases (GHGs) are gases that trap heat in the atmosphere. The most common GHGs are carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide. These three gases are natural byproducts of agricultural production. Butte County has a large agricultural land base. While these lands produce a higher amount of GHG emissions overall, on a per-acre basis Butte County’s agricultural lands are one of the lower producers of GHG emissions. Per-acre, Butte County’s agricultural lands produce less than one-sixth of the GHG emissions of urban land uses.


Greenhouse Gas Emissions: SALC Strategy Goals


Water Conservation: Water conservation can reduce water usage for irrigation. Butte County is susceptible to drought during dry periods. Water conservation helps prepare for these drought periods by pumping less water from aquifers beforehand and helping producers to implement practices that are especially beneficial during drought. Water conservation practices can reduce water usage while maintaining crop quality.



Water Conservation: SALC Strategy Goals


Groundwater Recharge: Groundwater recharge is the process of surface water infiltrating into the soil to replenish underground aquifers. These underground aquifers rely on a give-and-take system: as water is pumped from the aquifers it must also be replaced by the environment. Protecting recharge areas will ensure a healthy future for our agricultural lands.


Groundwater Recharge: SALC Strategy Goals


Financial Incentives for Farmers and Ranchers 

Sustainable farming and ranching practices not only benefit the environment, but can benefit agricultural producers as well. There are financial incentives available to farmers who switch to sustainable practices. Butte County has identified these incentives and produced a library of information to connect producers to these incentive programs. Visit the links below for more information on these financial incentive programs or to see if your property may qualify.


Financial Incentives for Ranching: Compost Applications


Financial Incentives for Ranching: Grassland Conservation


Financial Incentives for Rice Cultivation: Dry Seeding and Straw Baling


  Financial Incentives for Rice Cultivation: Dry Seeding and Early Drainage


Additional Information On Composting

Follow these links for information on the benefits of adding compost to grasslands, as well as program that help farmers and ranchers achieve these benefits.


Grassland Composting


Healthy Soils Program


Other Incentive Programs

Other programs exist that offer financial incentives to farmers and landowners for practices that work towards the sustainability goals of the SALC Strategy. The Natural Resources Conservation Service connects farmers and landowners to a variety of programs with incentives for various land management practices. Learn more about some of these programs through the links below. 

Agricultural Conservation Easement Program

Conservation Reserve Program

Conservation Stewardship Program

Environmental Quality Incentives Program

State Water Efficiency and Enhancement Program


For more information about the Butte County SALC Strategy, please contact:
Butte County Department of Development Services
 7 County Center Drive
  Oroville, CA 95965
          530.522.3681 or 530.522.3701



The statements and conclusions of this report are those of the GRANTEE, Collaborating Partner, and/or Subcontractor and not necessarily those of the California Strategic Growth Council or of the California Department of Conservation, or its employees. The California Strategic Growth Council and the California Department of Conservation make no warranties, express or implied, and assume no liability for the information contained in the succeeding text.


Web Page Design By: Gabriel Strelecki 2017

SALC Mapper

The SALC Mapper is an interactive mapping tool created to connect the public to a visual library of map information about agricultural land conservation. Farmers and ranchers can use it to find out if their lands qualify for financial incentive programs. Others can learn about factors that can influence the conversion of agricultural land to urban uses.  Click here to use the SALC Mapper and learn more!

Key Findings 

The Butte County SALC Strategy has been developed as a set of tools intended to help connect farmers, ranchers, and others to financial incentives for implementing sustainable practices, which can direct substantial amounts of cap-and-trade funding to our local community while supporting attainment of General Plan goals. 

Agriculture in Butte County emits less than 1 metric ton of carbon dioxide equivalents per acre, whereas each average acre of new residential, commercial, or industrial land could result in nine times as much emissions. 

The California cap-and-trade program generates billions of dollars in revenues, with potentially millions of dollars in new financial incentive programs becoming available to support implementation of carbon-offsets such as the conservation of grasslands, the composting of grazed grasslands, and other sustainable practices. 

Butte County's rangelands sequester large amounts of carbon, and could sequester substantially more with implementation of carbon sequestration practices such as composting of grazed grasslands. Grassland conservation and composting on 75 percent of the County’s rangelands could help surpass the County’s total 2020 County-wide carbon emission reduction goal. Composting could also substantially improve the agricultural and economic productivity of some grasslands.

Challenges that would need to be met to achieve large-scale composting of grasslands include a need for greater local availability of bulk compost that meets carbon registry standards, as well as a low local cost for the compost. The County could evaluate potential responses to these challenges, including allowing ranchers who plan to compost their grasslands to produce the compost on-site; identification of additional suitable composting sites throughout the County; or other potential solutions.

Implementation of other sustainable practices could also substantially support attainment of the County’s goals. For example, reduced winter flooding, straw removal, and dry seeding on 100 percent of the County’s rice lands could achieve up to 12 percent of the total 2020 County-wide carbon emission reduction goal. 

The sustainable farming and ranching practices described in the SALC Strategy may not be appropriate for all agricultural operations. Interested landowners and managers are encouraged to evaluate the practices described in the SALC Strategy to determine whether they are feasible and appropriate for their properties. 

Considerations for Other Plans and Programs

Butte County Climate Action Plan (CAP)
Conservation and composting of the County’s rangelands could help Butte County reach its total net CAP emissions reduction goal and perhaps exceed that goal. The 2019 update to the CAP should include an analysis of carbon sequestration on County agricultural lands, and how it could help the County meets its GHG emissions reductions goals. 

Land Conservation (Williamson) Act Program
Development of the SALC Strategy has provided information that could be integrated into a modified Williamson Act program. The County could consider incentivizing Williamson Act contracts for grazed grasslands, based on the carbon sequestration potential of these lands. The program could also create additional incentives for other lands whose continuing conservation and agricultural use could help the County attain its climate action planning or other key sustainability goals. 

Agricultural Mitigation Ordinance (AMO)
Similar to the SALC Strategy, the Draft AMO is intended to support the General Plan Agricultural Element’s goal to protect Butte County’s agricultural lands from conversion to non-agricultural uses. The County may wish to consider integrating key findings and opportunities from the SALC Strategy into the Draft AMO.

Oak Woodland Mitigation Ordinance
During preparation of this draft ordinance, it was found that oak woodlands in Butte County sequester over 3.2 million metric tons of carbon. Carbon sequestration is thought to play an important role in offsetting greenhouse gas emissions. Work toward this ordinance could point to potential carbon sequestration benefits that are not currently being considered for retaining and regrowth of oak woodlands in the review of discretionary projects.