Elizabeth Wright ’19, English

Certificate(s): Environmental Studies

I created and disseminated a funding menu targeted at farmers in California’s San Joaquin Valley whose irrigation rights will be affected by upcoming state legislation. The valley produces a third of the produce grown in the United States and also contains three of the five poorest cities in the country. The project aimed to protect water quality and supplies for agricultural, urban and wildlife usage. We also sought to maintain and improve the health of ecosystems and species, and to provide for long-term agricultural sustainability and viability in the face of reduced pumping. I wanted to identify incentive programs and mitigation structures that provide clear pathways for compensating landowners who are willing to implement habitat restoration, water recharge or other environmentally beneficial activities on their properties. I researched, wrote and condensed various state and federal funding options to encourage farmers to preserve rather than farm their land. This research included visiting farmers and state agencies to learn what inhibited farmers from seeking land-preservation funding.