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Mendocino County gained 399 acres of irrigated farmland in 2008-10, mostly in new vineyards, including a 100-acre Fetzer vineyard near Hopland, the state report said.

Lake County lost nearly 3,000 acres of irrigated land, largely due to fields going fallow, including about 250 acres of non-accessible land on the south slope of Mount Konocti and north of Highway 29, the report said. About 175 acres in the Witter Springs also was fallowed, along with several fields in Scotts Valley near Lakeport.

On the urban growth front, California gained 44,504 acres of urban land from 2008-10, the lowest urbanization rate ever recorded by the mapping project, Conservation Department Director Mark Nechodom said in a press release.

Bay Area trend

Sonoma County’s net urban growth of 473 acres made it one of six Bay Area counties that had less than 500 acres of growth, while the biggest gains were in Riverside, San Diego and Los Angeles counties, which each added 4,000 to 6,000 acres of urban area.

Lake County had 562 acres and Mendocino County 261 acres of urban expansion.

Tim Tesconi, executive director of the Sonoma County Farm Bureau, said the recession that began in 2008 brought local development to a virtual standstill.

Urban growth boundaries also have limited sprawl and protected agriculture, he said.

“Our farmlands are sacred,” Tesconi said. “We’ve done a really good job.”

But the pace of urbanization is “likely to speed up again as the economy gets stronger,” John Lowrie, assistant director of the Conservation Department’s Division of Land Resource Protection, said in a press release.

Many Californians remember when Los Angeles County and the Silicon Valley were among the nation’s top farming areas. “That’s no longer the case,” he said.

You can reach Staff Writer Guy Kovner at 521-5457 or guy.kovner@pressdemocrat.com.

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