For Sierra Valley ranchers, help to resist developers tougher to find
…One group – the California Rangeland Trust – says it has eight projects and 10,000 acres waiting for the funding needed to become protected easements. Other land trusts say they, too, are hunting around for money. Meanwhile, the California Department of Conservation estimates that Sierra Valley loses an average of 1,400 acres of grazing land every year.
"A lot of projects are ready to go once the money starts to flow," said Holly George, a livestock and natural resources adviser in Plumas and Sierra counties for the University of California Cooperative Extension. "A lot of ranchers are contacting the land trusts, but my sense is that the land trusts aren't seeing the funding."
According to the university, more than 150 land trusts in California have acquired nearly a million acres of land in recent years.
The California Rangeland Trust, founded about 10 years ago by the California Cattlemen's Association, focuses on protecting ranches, farms and grazing land through conservation easements. Landowners agree to keep their land in agriculture and protect wildlife habitat and in return are paid an amount between the fair market value of the property if developed and its lower agricultural value.
Rangeland Trust spokeswoman Erin Davis said her group has acquired three Sierra Valley ranches covering more than 20,000 acres since 1998…