SACRAMENTO — The California Rangeland Trust is pleased to announce the conservation of approximately 255 acres of rangeland on the Van Vleck Ranch near Rancho Murieta, Calif., which serves as an essential wildlife corridor for Swainson’s hawk and other raptors, wild turkeys, California quail, and more.
Since 1856, the Van Vleck family has held a commitment to the land, environment, and community. This project is one of seven completed conservation easements that furthers their commitment by ensuring 1,700 acres of the ranch will be safeguarded in perpetuity. These, along with additional areas the Van Vlecks hope to conserve, serve as a greenbelt, encourage infill development, and protect against urban sprawl around much of Rancho Murieta and across the eastern portion of Sacramento County.
This conservation easement protects a critical area of the ranch and within Sacramento County that connects two major wildlife corridors, including Deer Creek Hill and Gill Ranch. The nearly 10-mile stretch of protected agricultural land ensures wildlife will forever have the freedom to safely travel away from traffic and between these three sections of open space.
The Van Vlecks previously conserved portions of their ranch, in collaboration with the Rangeland Trust, through mitigation partnerships with groups like Teichert Aggregates and the County of Sacramento through the South Sacramento Habitat Conservation Project. These projects sought to offset habitat disturbances to various special status species.
“For generations the Van Vlecks have served as top-notch environmental stewards,” said Michael Delbar, CEO of the Rangeland Trust. “We are proud to partner with them to protect this remarkable ranch that not only provides critical habitat for wildlife but also produces quality, local food to feed our community,” said Michael Delbar the CEO of the California Rangeland Trust.
The Van Vleck Ranch is home to the family’s Angus and Wagyu beef operation. Sold through Snake River Farms, their products have been featured in some of the top restaurants in the world, including the French Laundry and Michael Mina restaurants. Locally, their beef can be found at Corti Brothers.
The Van Vleck’s livestock also serve an important role by helping to maintain the health of the ecosystem. Cattle grazing helps mitigate catastrophic wildfires by reducing dry shrubs and grasses that act as fuel for fires. Additionally, cattle remove non-native plants that can inhibit the growth of native grasses and other plant species that are critical to biodiversity.
Funds for this project were made available through the Natural Resources Conservation Service’s (NRCS) Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP) program and the California Strategic Growth Council’s (SGC) Sustainable Agricultural Lands Conservation Program (SALC) in collaboration with the Department of Conservation. SALC is part of California Climate Investments, a statewide initiative 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.
Landowner, Stan Van Vleck, stated: “I appreciate the relationship between DOC, SGC, NRCS, the Rangeland Trust, and the ranch to help preserve these habitats and my family’s cattle ranch that has been operating for over 160 years. And with these easements, it puts us in a good position to be in business for several hundred more years. I also appreciate our relationships with the California Fish and Wildlife and United States Fish and Wildlife Service agencies where we are working voluntarily and collaboratively to enhance wildlife habitat on this easement and other locations on our ranch.”
Eventually, the Van Vlecks’ goal is to conserve over 4,000 acres in total to guarantee the ranch will forever remain intact and functioning as a working landscape for cattle to roam and wildlife to thrive. This latest conservation easement puts them one step closer to meeting that goal.
–USDA NRCS California