LOS ANGELES, CA – Cadiz Inc. (NASDAQ: CDZI) announced March 5 the permanent protection of up to 7,400 acres of its private land holdings through the establishment of the Fenner Valley Desert Tortoise Conservation Bank in eastern San Bernardino County. The Bank, approved this week by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, will provide permanent protection of habitat for the desert tortoise (Gopherus Agassizii), a State of California and federally-listed threatened species. Under an MOU entered into last month with San Diego Zoo Global, the Bank will also provide for long-term species research.
Cadiz is the private partner with Santa Margarita Water District in the Cadiz Valley Water Conservation, Recovery and Storage Project, which would supply SMWD customers with 5,000 acre feet of water annually – about 20 percent of SMWD’s annual demand -- by actively managing a 1,300-square-mile watershed in the Mojave Desert’s Fenner Valley. Water that would otherwise evaporate will be collected and conserved for beneficial use. A future phase of the project could include the ability to store water underground in the Cadiz aquifer so that it could be used during dry years.
The Fenner Conservation Bank is the largest-ever land bank approved for the protection of the desert tortoise by CDFW, the public agency responsible for coordinating California’s land conservation banking program. Under the CDFW program, private lands enrolled in a conservation bank can be used to offset impacts to species or habitats that may occur outside of the bank’s boundaries. The approval of the Fenner Conservation Bank allows credits, which are associated with certain parcels of land, to be made available immediately to those projects and entities seeking to offset impacts to the desert tortoise across the Southern California desert region. It is anticipated that various projects planned for the desert, including renewable energy projects, will benefit from the credits that will be available from the Fenner Conservation Bank.