2014 Annual Conference

Our 84th Annual Conference “Planning in California‘s Heartland" was November 7-8 2014, hosted by Merced County.



Fri. Nov. 7

  • Onsite registration- 8:15 a.m. at the Los Banos Community Center 7th and H St. Los Banos.
  • Speakers program 9:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at Los Banos Community Center
  • Meet bus at Best Western Executive Inn for ride to lunch. 11:45 a.m.
  • Lunch at the famous Wool Growers Basque Restaurant hosted by Grassland Water District. 12:00 p.m.
  • Bus tour of Grassland Resource Conservation District and Grassland Water District. 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
  • Cocktail reception at Espana's Restaurant at historic Canal Farm Inn. 6:00 p.m.
  • Dinner at Espana's Restaurant. 7:00 p.m.

Sat. Nov. 8

  • Bus to depart from Best Western Executive Inn for UC Merced. 8:30 a.m.
  • Tour of University California Merced. California's newest U.C. campus. 10:00 a.m.
  • Lunch at U.C. Merced 11:30 a.m.
  • Afternoon speakers program at Merced County admin building 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
  • Bus to depart for return to Best Western Executive Los Banos 4:15 p.m.
  • Cocktail Hour at M & M Italian Restaurant, 400 W. Pacheco Blvd. Los Banos. 6:00 p.m.
  • Dinner at M & M Italian Restaurant 7:00 p.m.



University of California Merced.

UC Merced opened Sept. 5, 2005, as the 10th campus in the University of California system and the first American research university of the 21st century. Situated near Yosemite National Park, the campus significantly expands access to the UC system for students throughout the state, with a special mission to increase college-going rates among students in the San Joaquin Valley. It also serves as a major base of advanced research, a model of sustainable design and construction, and a stimulus to economic growth and diversification throughout the region.

Grassland Resource Conservation District and Grassland Water District:

Grassland Resource Conservation District
The Grassland Resource Conservation District contains approximately 75,000 acres and is composed of privately-owned hunting clubs and other privately-owned wetland areas, as well as all or portions of several state wildlife areas (such as Volta WA, Los Banos WA, Mud Slough Unit, Gadwall Unit, and Salt Slough Unit) and federal wildlife refuges (such as Kesterson NWR, San Luis NWR, Freitas Unit, and Blue Goose Unit). The area is the largest contiguous block of wetlands remaining in California’s Central Valley and is a major wintering ground for migratory waterfowl and shorebirds of the Pacific Flyway. Up to 30 percent of the Central Valley’s wintering population of ducks use this area, which is located in the San Joaquin Valley in Merced County. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) ranks the habitat provided by the GRCD as the most important complex of wetlands in the San Joaquin Valley. The wetlands of the GRCD are a component of the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network and are internationally recognized for their importance to shorebirds (Bureau of Reclamation,1992).

Lands within the GRCD are primarily managed for waterfowl habitat. The Grassland Water District (GWD) has a Water Management Plan, but no overall habitat management plan exists for the GRCD because of the large number of individual property owners. The management objectives of the GRCD include an active program to encourage natural food plant production (such as swamp timothy, smartweed, and wildlife millet) and habitat protection. Land uses include seasonally flooded wetlands, moist soil impoundments, permanent wetland, irrigated pasture, and croplands.

The GRCD contains most of the 51,530 acre GWD. The GWD is a legal entity that was established under section 34000 of the California Water Code to receive and distribute CVP water. The GWD delivers CVP water to the wetland areas within its boundaries. The GWD contains approximately 165 separate ownerships, most of which are duck clubs. Perpetual easements have been purchased by the USFWS to help preserve wetland-dependent migratory bird habitat on approximately 31,000 acres serviced by the GWD. These easements authorize the USFWS to restrict land uses that would diminish wetland habitat values.

Grassland Water District

The Grassland Water District (District) is a California Water District formed under Section 34000 of the State Water Code. The District is approximately 51,537 acres in size with the majority of this land in wetland habitat. The District’s primary function is the delivery of water to the landowners within its boundaries. The canal system for carrying out water deliveries is approximately 110 miles in length and is operated and maintained by the District.

The board of directors of the Grassland Water District is proud of what the District has achieved over its fifty-year history, and particularly, its success in securing and managing a long-term water supply to preserve and enhance one of the nation’s most valuable wildlife resource areas. The private landowners and sportsmen within the Grasslands, working with the District and other public agencies, have been responsible for the preservation and maintenance of the largest remaining freshwater marsh habitat on the Pacific Flyway.

The District was also instrumental in the development of the Grassland Environmental Education Center (GEECe), which began offering programs, at no cost to schools, for elementary and secondary school students in the spring of 1994. Thousands of students have visited GEECe to learn about wetlands, wildlife, and open-space, and the roles that the hunting community and the agricultural community play in preserving them.