A Regional Conservation Investment Strategy (RCIS) is a science-based, nonbinding, voluntary conservation strategy approved by the state that identifies at-risk natural resources and species, as well as potential actions to protect them. The Kaweah RCIS is focused on supporting working lands, native habitat, and creating options for landowners who need to manage their groundwater use.
An RCIS identifies opportunities for protecting, creating, restoring, and reconnecting habitat for at-risk species identified in the region.
It also provides an opportunity for landowners to receive payments for creating this habitat on formerly irrigated agricultural lands. It does this by allowing for the creation of mitigation credit agreements (MCAs) and, likely, driving public sources of funding to the region. MCAs provide developers more options for mitigating loss of endangered species habitat and landowners an opportunity to be paid to create habitat.
Importantly, an RCIS does not create, modify, or impose any regulatory requirements or standards. It does not regulate land use, establish land use designations or affect the land use authority of a public agency.
The RCIS program was created by the state Legislature in 2016 and is administered by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. The Kaweah RCIS is the first to be initiated in response to the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act.