Conservation easement sought for ranch land |

Conservation easement sought for ranch land

Map of proposed conservation easement.
ALL | GrassValleyArchive

Nevada County supervisors are expected Tuesday to support an effort to preserve 493 acres of ranch land owned by the Robinson family near Spenceville Wildlife Area.

Last month, supervisors supported an effort to preserve the 443-acre “Devil’s Slide” area on the South Yuba River.

Conservation easements – agreements not to ever develop the land – are being sought for both properties by the Nevada County Land Trust and the Trust for Public Land, a national organization with offices in San Francisco.

The conservation groups hope to get funding for the projects through something called the Sierra Nevada Cascade Grant Program, which – in turn – got its funding from Proposition 12, the parks bond California voters approved in 2000.

The Sierra Nevada Cascade Grant Program is dedicated to preserving land in the Sierra Nevada and Cascade mountain ranges.

It was designed to make it easier for rural areas to compete with urban areas for state money, said Cheryl Belcher, executive director of the Nevada County Land Trust.

“We don’t have to compete with Los Angeles, with San Francisco. We don’t have to compete with the large urban areas for the money,” Belcher said.

The supervisors are expected to support the conservation groups’ application for the grant money.

“I know that a lot of other land trusts are going to be competing for it,” Belcher said. “However, I think we have a very good chance.”

The conservation groups are seeking $250,000 in funding for each easement.

The “Robinson Ranch” land the conservationists seek to preserve is part of roughly 3,000 acres of ranch land in Nevada County owned by Lowell Robinson and Neil Robinson.

“We run cows on it,” Lowell Robinson, owner of Robinson Enterprises Inc., said Friday. The brothers are open to putting the land under a conservation easement.

The ranch land is blue oak woodland that borders the Spenceville Wildlife Area, and its preservation would expand Spenceville, enhance deer wintering range, and protect habitat for “special status” birds such as the Cooper’s hawk, ferruginous hawk and California black rail, said a letter written by Supervisor Elizabeth Martin to her fellow supervisors.

If funding gets approved for Devil’s Slide acreage on the South Yuba, the Independence Trail could possibly be extended another quarter-mile in length across the land, Belcher said.

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