The Land Trust of Napa County announced the completion of a conservation easement protecting 680 acres of Webber Ranch near Lake Berryessa.
The project was completed in partnership with the California Department of Conservation (DOC) and the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).
The first half of the ranch was protected through an easement with the Land Trust last year. Now, the entire 1,412-acre ranch is protected. The easement restricts residential and commercial development but does not interfere with the existing cattle ranching operation.
In the last four years, the Land Trust has completed five separate easement projects in this area, protecting 7,400 contiguous acres. This land also abuts federal land around the Lake and at the Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument. Altogether, over 30,000 contiguous acres of land is now protected on the east side of the lake.
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“I want to thank Pete Craig, the landowner, for his far-sighted commitment to permanently protect this beautiful property,” said Doug Parker, CEO of the Land Trust. “Pete has now completed four easements with the Land Trust in the last four years.”
“With continued pressure from urban sprawl, large tracts of land like this are constantly under threat of being taken out of grassland production,” said Pete Craig. “This reality not only eliminates the ranching way of life, but takes away the ability of Mother Nature to work in combination with cattle ranchers to produce natural, low cost protein ... beef, and at the same time, help fight global warming, through enhanced carbon sequestering.
“Having this land protected and dedicated to ranching will help us achieve our dream of a sustainable ranching operation next to beautiful Lake Berryessa. And it will allow my son, Will, the opportunity to follow in my footsteps, if he has it in him!”
The ranch extends from just above the Lake Berryessa shoreline eastward toward the Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument along the ridge between Napa and Yolo counties. By connecting protected land around the Lake with protected land at the National Monument, the project ensures protection of extensive wildlife habitat, while maintaining a viable ranching operation.
“I want to thank DOC and NRCS for providing the funding for this important conservation project,” said Parker. “It would not have happened without their programs and without the work of their staff.”
Partial funding for this easement transaction came from the Sustainable Agricultural Lands Conservation (SALC) Program – a component of the Strategic Growth Council’s Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities Program. DOC administers the SALC Program.
The program aims to protect Ag lands from development, simultaneously supporting California’s food security and reducing future emissions of greenhouse gases. This program is part of the California Climate Investments, which use proceeds from the State’s Cap and Trade auctions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while advancing a variety of additional environmental, economic and health benefits.
“We are thrilled to partner with Land Trust of Napa County and Mr. Craig on protecting the Webber Ranch for generations to come,” said Department of Conservation Director David Bunn. “By conserving large working rangelands like the Webber Ranch, Californian’s benefit from more secure food production, increased biodiversity, reduced sprawl, and increased carbon sequestration in the land itself. This project truly exemplifies the goals of California’s Climate Investments”
Funding was also provided by NRCS’ Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP). The ACEP program helps landowners, land trusts, and other entities protect, restore, and enhance wetlands, grasslands, and working farms and ranches through conservation easements.
The project protects important natural values. The property includes extensive oak woodlands and oak savannas, as well as annual grasslands. The property includes the upper reaches of Jackson Creek and the entire property is within the watershed of Lake Berryessa, a key water source for Solano County. The project also includes a sustainable management plan to ensure ongoing protection of these natural values.