BYLT secures dollars to save historic PV ranch
January 2, 2018
Late last year, the State of California awarded Bear Yuba Land Trust $3.45 million, facilitating the second phase in the preservation of a 3,070-acre cattle ranch in Penn Valley, forever protecting one of Nevada County's largest, historic and important agricultural lands known as Robinson Ranch.
It was the largest award given by the Strategic Growth Council through the Sustainable Agricultural Lands Conservation Program (SALC Program), a program administered by the California Department of Conservation, in cooperation with the Natural Resources Agency.
The SALC Program is part of California Climate Investments, a statewide program that puts billions of Cap-and-Trade dollars to work reducing greenhouse gas emissions, strengthening the economy and improving public health and the environment — particularly in disadvantaged communities. The Cap-and-Trade program also creates a financial incentive for industries to invest in clean technologies and develop innovative ways to reduce pollution.
Protecting critical agricultural lands from conversion to urban or rural residential development promotes smart growth, ensures open space remains available and supports a healthy agricultural economy and resulting food security. In addition, a healthy and resilient agricultural sector is becoming increasingly important in meeting the challenges that arise as a result of climate change.
"Since our founding, the Land Trust has been committed to permanently protecting our local ranch lands," said Marty Coleman-Hunt, executive director of BYLT. "Ranchers tend to be great conservationists. While they manage their land for highest herd productivity, it also means they take care of water resources and natural habitat for wildlife. The Robinson Ranch is among the best managed landscapes in our watershed, and we are delighted that the family wants it to remain that way forever."
Robinson Ranch is one of 12 original pioneer ranches in Nevada County. For 150 years, the ranch has been in commercial agricultural production, by one family. The entire ranch is currently used for commercial beef production and haying, and includes irrigated pasture and dry rangelands.
In 2015, 1,477 acres of the Robinson Ranch were conserved with an agricultural conservation easement, held by California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW). The newest award by the state will help conserve the remaining 1,593 acres with an agricultural conservation easement held by BYLT.
Considered at high risk for subdivision, the Robinson family ranch has been subject to increasing development pressure over the years. Since 2015, 19 undeveloped lots have been sold within a five-mile radius of the ranch, according to Zillow Real Estate. These ranged in size from one-third of an acre to 20 acres, averaging 5–10 acres.
With the conservation easement in place, Robinson Ranch can continue to be a working ranch, and the deed will reflect that it must stay in agriculture. If there comes a time the Robinson family is no longer able to work the ranch, another young farmer from the next generation can come in and continue the legacy of local food production.