Adopted February 25, 2014
Introduction to Butte County
Located in Northern California, unincorporated Butte County contains approximately 1,680 square miles within the northeastern end of the Sacramento Valley, extending east into the northern Sierra Nevada foothills. Butte County is predominantly a rural area; urban land makes up less than 5% of the total county area. Weather is generally temperate and warm, with average lows dropping to just below 40 degrees Fahrenheit and summer highs ranging over 90 degrees Fahrenheit.1
Homes and businesses are dispersed throughout the unincorporated county, resulting in transportation activity typical for a rural, unincorporated county. Given the distribution of homes, businesses, and daily activities, driving in personal vehicles is common. Most of the building stock was constructed before adoption of California’s energy-efficient Title 24 building code in 1978. Similar to other rural counties, Butte County does not require a business license or maintain extensive building stock records.
Agriculture is a strong and growing sector of the Butte County economy, and occupied about 500,000 acres of unincorporated county land in 2012. According to the Agriculture Commission office, gross Butte County 2012 agricultural production totaled $721,434,000, an increase of over $77.3 million above 2011, and approximately 45% above the county’s 10-year average.2 Walnuts, almonds, and rice crops were among the highest-value crop types. Generally, agricultural activity has been shifting from field crops to higher-value nut crops that typically require less water and fertilizer. Agricultural businesses have taken steps to reduce costs and improve yields by reducing water and fertilizer use, both of which have GHG emissions reduction benefits. Agricultural innovation is a key foundation of the County’s economic strategy, and is also important to the success of the CAP.
Where this Plan Applies
The CAP provides GHG emissions reduction targets for both the unincorporated Butte County community, and for Butte County government operations. Figure 1 identifies the jurisdictional boundary of Butte County, which includes the cities of Biggs, Chico, Gridley, and Oroville, and the Town of Paradise. Butte County provides many services on a countywide basis, but has land use authority only over the unincorporated area, which is the focus of the CAP. The term “community” is used to refer to the unincorporated area.