Author Archive for Marty Coleman-Hunt

California Ranchers Safeguard Agriculture and Sage-Grouse Habitat

MARCH 12, 2018 – BISHOP, CA –The Eastern Sierra Land Trust (ESLT) announces the completion of their largest conservation easement to date on Sceirine Point Ranch, showcasing how conservation and sustainable agriculture effectively work together. Owners Joe and David Sceirine have sold an agricultural conservation easement of 2,375 acres that will protect native grassland, the greater sage-grouse and mule deer, while allowing the property to be used for livestock grazing.

For three generations, the Sceirine family has owned and operated a successful beef cattle ranching business in Bridgeport Valley, an emerald valley crowned by the peaks of Yosemite National Park located between the ghost town of Bodie and Yosemite National Park. This high mountain meadow is laced with creeks and wetlands, providing a haven for diverse wildlife such as mule deer, waterfowl, migratory songbirds, and some of the best habitat in California for the greater sage-grouse.

“We wanted to maintain our identity and preserve our lifestyle as cowboys and ranchers,” said David Sceirine. “It is my dream that three generations from now, Sceirine descendants not even born yet, will be able to own and work this land to continue with our family legacy.”

Conservation easements protect land for future generations while ensuring owners retain certain property rights. Through an easement, landowners transfer only those rights necessary to protect specific conservation values, such as wildlife habitat. Easements are individually tailored to meet a landowner’s goals and the conservation values of the land. Because the land remains in private ownership, with the remainder of the rights intact, an agricultural easement property continues to provide economic benefits for the region in the form of jobs, productivity, and property taxes.

Much of the funding for this project was provided by USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). NRCS provides financial and technical resources that help landowners and partners protect the nation’s most productive grasslands, wetlands, and agricultural lands by providing funding to purchase easements on private working lands. NRCS’ Agricultural Conservation Easement Program that protects grasslands of special significance was an ideal funding vehicle for Sceirine Point Ranch because of the habitat the ranch provides for Bi-State greater sage-grouse. It is the first of several pending projects using NRCS funds, which come from the 2014 Farm Bill.

Additional funding was secured from the Sustainable Agricultural Lands Conservation (SALC) Program. The SALC Program is part of California Climate Investments (CCI), 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.

“The Bridgeport Valley is one of California’s hidden gems, and I congratulate all the parties who had a role in creating an agricultural conservation easement on the Sceirine Point Ranch,” said David Bunn, Director of the California Department of Conservation. “Our department is pleased to be part of the SALC program, which achieves the important benefits of both conserving agricultural land and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. This easement also has the added effect of protecting wildlife habitat, wetland areas, and riparian corridors, which I find very gratifying.”

In addition to helping conserve important grasslands and supporting the local ranching community, this agricultural conservation easement prevents Sceirine Point Ranch from conversion to residential or commercial development or crops. Preventing these changes and maintaining the native grassland will avoid greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to 45,637 metric tons of carbon, according to an analysis by the SALC Program. The project also received a grant from California Deer Association, a privately funded sportsmen’s group that improves habitat for California deer herds and other wildlife through direct financial support for habitat improvement and research projects.

“It is such an incredible victory to secure the protection of Sceirine Point Ranch for economic sustainability and the breathtakingly scenic Bridgeport Valley,” said Kay Ogden, Executive Director of ESLT. “We are extremely grateful to the Sceirine family’s long-term vision and all our partners for their dedication to preserve this historic working ranch and important home for wildlife for generations to come.”

Sceirine Point Ranch

 

Placer Land Trust Protects Nisenan Cultural Land

Partnership for the ages protects Granite Bay property

Granite Bay, CAPlacer Land Trust has announced the permanent protection of 27 acres of oak woodlands and wetlands in Granite Bay – land with special historical significance to local Native Americans.

A recent mitigation agreement between the landowner, Amazing Facts Ministries, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers allows adjacent land to be developed for a church, while granting Placer Land Trust a conservation easement on the 27 acres.  Placer Land Trust is a nonprofit working with willing landowners to permanently protect natural and agricultural lands in Placer County.

“Our conservation easement permanently prohibits subdivision, development, and other activities that would be harmful to wildlife habitat, wetlands, Granite Bay water quality, and the historic character of this beautiful land,” said Jeff Darlington, Placer Land Trust’s Executive Director.

The land is located nearby to a historic Nisenan village named Odayan, and Placer Land Trust has renamed it “Odayan Preserve” in recognition of the many past generations of Nisenan land stewardship.

“We’re pleased to see the Nisenan heritage honored here, and we thank Placer Land Trust for permanently protecting this land from development,” said Matthew Moore, Tribal Historic Preservation Officer at the United Auburn Indian Community.

Odayan Preserve is on land privately owned by Amazing Facts Ministries, and is not open to the public.  Placer Land Trust will manage and monitor the property to ensure the wetlands and cultural values are protected in perpetuity. Funding for the ongoing stewardship of the property was provided by the landowner through the mitigation agreement.

“Granite Bay has a rich history and a pretty amazing pre-history,” said Darlington.  “80-million year old dinosaur bones have been found here, and of course much more recently the Nisenan people lived along the American River, Dry Creek and Miner’s Ravine in the lush oak woodlands of Granite Bay.  We are pleased to partner with Amazing Facts Ministries and the Army Corps of Engineers in protecting natural wonders like Odayan Preserve for current and future generations – this is truly a ‘partnership for the ages’.”

About Placer Land Trust

Placer Land Trust is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit public benefit organization incorporated in 1991 that works with willing landowners and conservation partners to permanently protect natural and agricultural lands in Placer County for future generations.  To date the Trust has protected over 8,100 acres in 40 locations across Placer County – including farms and ranches, riverfront lands, wildlife preserves, scenic open spaces, public parks and recreation areas, and lands with significant cultural and historical significance.  For details, see www.placerlandtrust.org  or call (530) 887-9222.

 

Bear Yuba Wins Forest Health Funding

Dec. 19, 2016 – Bear Yuba Land Trust (BYLT) will receive $74,550 in grant funding from the Sierra Nevada Conservancy (SNC) Governing Board to complete a timber management plan on approximately 2,000 acres of mixed conifer forest in the North and Middle Yuba River watersheds.

The grant-funded Non-Industrial Timber Management Plan (NTMP) will guide BYLT’s future management actions within forests of Rice’s Crossing Preserve, a 2,706 acre property owned by BYLT located along a six-mile span of the river corridor.

For years, Sierra Nevada Conservancy has served as a primary contributor to research and land management planning projects on BYLT Preserves.

“BYLT is very excited to work with SNC on another project. Having the opportunity to study wildlife, plants and ecosystem functions on the lands we conserve is essential to upholding our goals of protecting critical wildlife habitats and restoring ecosystems to the best of our ability based on scientific data we collect,” said Director of Land Stewardship Erin Tarr.

In 1989, the state legislature created a new option in the Forest Practices Act for “non-industrial” landowners – private landowners and organizations without a wood processing facility known as the Non-Industrial Timber Management Plan. It is designed to promote long-term management and planning on forest ownerships of 2,500 acres or less.

BYLT’s  plan for Rice’s Crossing will guide a wide variety of forest management methods including: areas that would benefit from understory prescribed fire, critical wildlife habitat corridors that should remain untouched and areas that could benefit from sustainable harvesting. All funds BYLT receives from timber harvests will be applied back to Rice’s Crossing Preserve for stewardship of the land.

SNC approved a total of $3.1 million in grants for ten projects throughout California that will: decrease wildfire risk, lessen tree mortality and restore forest and watershed health in the Sierra Nevada region. Funding for these projects comes from Proposition 1, The Water Quality, Supply, and Infrastructure Improvement Act of 2014. This is the fifth set of awards made under SNC’s Proposition 1 grant program.
“Sierra forests are the source of more than sixty percent of California’s developed water supply, but these forests have experienced rapid and significant change. The grants that were awarded by our board are great examples of the kind of work we need to be encouraging across the entire Sierra to protect the source of California’s water,” said Jim Branham, Executive Officer for the Sierra Nevada Conservancy.

The NTMP will allow BYLT to manage their land in a way that ensures ecosystems continue to add value to the wildlife habitat being preserved in the region. Protecting the Yuba River from increased sedimentation resulting from severe wildfires is an underlying objective of improving forest health.

Rice’s Crossing Preserve spans the east and west sides of the North and Middle Yuba River below Bullard’s Bar Dam. The steepness of the river canyon in this region allows limited public access and provides a vast area of wilderness that acts as a refuge for wildlife. However, the steep terrain also impedes future fire suppression efforts and increases the chance of a rapidly expanding fire that could negatively impact the river’s riparian areas, a situation that creates a critical need for a management plan.

Community support for the project comes from: Yuba County Water Agency, CalFire, Bureau of Land Management, Army Corps of Engineers, South Yuba River Citizens League and Sierra Streams Institute.

In August, BYLT received $312,000 in grant funding to develop multi-use, public recreation amenities for Rice’s Crossing Preserve, work that is set to commence in 2017.

BYLT promotes land conservation in the watersheds of the Bear and Yuba Rivers, from the western crest of the Sierra Nevada range to lower elevation oak woodlands. Since 1991, more than 11,000 acres in the region have been protected from development and will be stewarded by BYLT in perpetuity.

Learn more: www.bylt.org

 

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