The Environmental Mitigation Program (EMP) uses funds from TransNet, the half-cent sales tax approved by voters in 1988 to fund local transportation projects, to protect, preserve, and restore native habitats to offset disturbances caused by the construction of regional and local transportation projects.
Over the past decade, the $850 million program has enabled SANDAG to preserve more than 9,215 acres around the region with a total value of about $164 million, in part by leveraging $33.2 million from conservation partners. Through the TransNet EMP, including the Land Acquisition Grant Program, we go beyond traditional mitigation programs by buying large parcels of land early at lower prices to comprehensively satisfy the mitigation requirements of current and future projects. Purchase of mitigation lands in advance of need results in significant cost savings. In addition to the acquisition and preservation of native habitats, EMP provides funds for regional management and monitoring to maintain the biological value of conserved habitat lands. To date, SANDAG has released 10 cycles of funding through the EMP Land Management Grant Program to help land managers with the management of their open space lands.