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Wednesday, September 5, 2007


Development Rights at Two Humboldt County Ranches Bought


California’s wild North Coast is home to unparalleled natural abundance—lush coastal forests, rolling oak woodlands and vast watersheds with hundreds of rivers, streams and creeks. Working farms and ranches—mostly dairy and cattle—span huge tracts of open space. One of the last undeveloped coastal areas in California, the North Coast is a place where the pace of development has not yet overtaken the pace of conservation.

But all that could change. Pressure to develop housing subdivisions and convert large working lands into smaller “ranchettes” is a growing threat that could fragment vital lands and waters. To abate this threat, The Nature Conservancy and the Northcoast Regional Land Trust (NRLT) have formed a new collaboration to help both groups better protect the North Coast’s watersheds, wildlife and local economies.

Collaborating to Produce Results

In August 2006, the Conservancy helped NRLT purchase conservation easements on two working ranches in Humboldt County. The 4,700-acre Iaqua Ranch and 1,280-acre Price Creek Ranch both contain miles of salmon-bearing streams and important forest and woodland habitat. In both cases, The Nature Conservancy provided expertise in real estate transactions, the creation of conservation easements and scientific planning. NRLT provided knowledge of the landscape and the community, and fostered relationships with local landowners.

“It makes sense to work together,” says George Yandell, director of the Conservancy’s North Coast Project. “Our two organizations have similar missions and a shared vision for conservation in the North Coast.”

Jim Petruzzi, executive director of the Northcoast Regional Land Trust (NRLT), agrees.

“We can get a lot more done together,” says Petruzzi. “Working collaboratively means we can share our strengths and resources.”

Since forming in 2000, NRLT has achieved notable success with the protection of more than 6,300 acres of working landscapes and natural areas in the region. Their strong reputation has resulted in a waiting list of landowners interested in donating conservation easements.

“We have a problem of riches,” jokes Petruzzi, “just like the North Coast itself. Residents here recognize that the North Coast is uniquely rich in natural resources like forests and streams, and they want to protect these valuable riches.”

Purchase of conservation easements at the Iaqua Ranch and Price Creek Ranch are just the beginning. Over the next year, The Nature Conservancy and NRLT will draft a conservation action plan for the region and work on more easement transactions. By working together, The Nature Conservancy and the Northcoast Regional Land Trust will be more effective and efficient at protecting the North Coast’s rich resources for future generations.

“In five years time, I hope we’ll see a lot more easements in the North Coast,” says Petruzzi. “Easements protect everything that North Coast residents value—open space, forests, streams for fish, and working farms and ranches.”

Story on Garcia watershed purchase in 2005:

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