1) Wilderness Land Trust – acquisition of Sacatar Trail Wilderness inholding. In late 2008, Conservation Partners represented Wilderness Land Trust in their purchase of some 2,400 acres from a private landowner. This land is adjacent to the Sacatar Trails Wilderness and is a rich ecological and archeological resource. The land includes expansive wet meadows straddled by pinyon-juniper woodlands and an isolated stand of Joshua trees that occur at an elevation just over 7,000 feet. The Sacatar Trail, an old wagon road and one of the few reminders that humans ever traveled regularly through this area, provides relatively easy access into this rugged and pristine Wilderness on the eastern slope of the southern Sierra Nevada. The Pacific Crest Trail passes within a short hike to the west of the acquisition. The Wilderness Land Trust is working to transfer ownership to the Bureau of Land Management as part of the Sacatar Trail Wilderness.
2) Solano Land Trust - Ebey Laughtin and McConeghy acquisition. This was a multi-phase . In the first phase, Solano Land Trust acquired the McConeghy and the Ebey Laughtin land. The McConeghy lot lines were then rearranged into two sections, the North and the South and the North was combined with the Ebey Laughtin land. Solano Land Trust then placed conservation easements on the two lands; one on the combined north section of McConeghy/Ebey Laughtin land and the other on the south portion of the McConeghy land. Once the conservation easements were in place, Solano Land Trust then sold the farms to private parties. These conservation easements were especially important since their proximity to Interstate-80 gave them a high developmental potential. Extinguishment of these developmental rights was a significant step toward creating a permanent agricultural greenbelt between the cities of Davis and Dixon.
3) Audubon California - Alexander acquisition. In early 2006, Conservation Partners advised Audubon in its acquisition of the 105-acre Alexander property. The entire was accomplished in less than 10 days – surely a record in the conservation world. The Alexander property is home to the Southwestern Willow Flycatcher and Vermillion Flycatcher.
4) Solano Land Trust - Acquisition of the 4000 acre King-Swett Ranch. This multi-year project included coordinating numerous State and local government funders and foundations. In addition to managing this extensive open space for public access and continued grazing, the red-legged frog and other threatened habitat will be preserved and enhanced in a unique, long-term relationship with the former owner.
5) Audubon California - Acquisition of 1662 acres of the Sprague Ranch near Kernville, CA. The acquisition doubled the size of Audubon’s Kern River Preserve, home to a rare cottonwood willow forest and a Mecca for birds and birders.
6) Mendocino Land Trust - Acquisition of Redwood Conservation Easement on the historic Ridgewood Ranch near Willits, CA, home of the famous racehorse, Seabiscuit.
7) Parker Ranch - Legal counsel for landowner in the sale of a conservation easement in April of 2008. The Parker Ranch, covering 9,500 acres and located in Kern County, provides vital habitat for many plant and animal species, including the endangered California condor and the Bakersfield cactus. The conservation easement also ensures that the property will remain as open space and allows the Parker family tradition of ranching to remain available for future generations.
8) Yolo Land Trust & City of Davis - Barger Farm easement. Legal counsel for Yolo Land Trust. In collaboration with the City of Davis, Yolo Land Trust acquired a conservation easement on the Barger Farm in March 2008. The Barger Farm covers some 79 acres of prime farmland and riparian habitat.
9) Yolo Land Trust - JPA Swainson’s hawk easements. Yolo Land Trust & Yolo County’s Joint Powers Agency (JPA) collaborated to place conservation easements simultaneously on five properties in Yolo County. The easements will provide important foraging habitat for Swainson’s hawk, as well as valuable agricultural land.
10) Solano Land Trust - Miles/Kidwell easements. Solano Land Trust worked with the cities of Dixon and Davis to conserve the 480+ acre Miles and Kidwell properties. In this transaction, the owner of the Kidwell property purchased the Miles property. The properties were then placed under one conservation easement. The conservation easement will protect prime farmland and helps to protect a segment of the Dixon Ridge next to Interstate 80 that faces immediate developmental pressures. It will be the third conservation easement placed on a property in the area as a part of the local conservation effort to create a green belt between the Cities of Davis and Dixon.
11) Bureau of Land Management Land Exchange. In April of 2006, Conservation Partners helped complete a land exchange that was 7 years in the making. In the exchange, many scattered parcels owned by BLM in Kings, Kern and San Luis Obispo counties were exchanged for a larger parcel of equal value located in Tulare County. In addition to negotiating and maintaining individual buyers in contract for 7 years, Conservation Partners also acted as the link between BLM and the buyers in solving conflicts, any of which could have prevented the exchange from happening. The end result was a win-win situation in which private farmers and ranchers acquired government land which they could utilize and BLM in turn acquired roughly 1,000 acres of land with significant conservation value.
1) Stewardship Plan – As part of a team, prepared an extensive stewardship plan for the Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District.
2) Agricultural Conservation Easement Plan – As part of team, prepared a detailed agricultural conservation easement plan for the Solano Land Trust.
3) Land Trust Policies and Procedures – Prepared policies and procedures for several land trusts regarding conflicts of interest, mitigation arrangements and stewardship.
4) SB 555 – Conservation Easements and Eminent Domain. Conservation Partners co-authored SB 555 for CCLT with Fran Layton of Shute, Mihaly & Weinberger. We worked closely with Fran, CCLT, Senator Kehoe’s staff, and interested utilities to draft language that would protect conservation easements in the event that the conserved property is taken under eminent domain. SB 555 minimized and eliminated the taking of a conservation easement when possible, clarified valuation methodology, and recognized governmental interest in conservation easements as a “public land.” SB 555 was passed by both houses but ultimately vetoed by Governor Schwarzenegger.