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Wednesday, September 5, 2007

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Mendocino County Ranch's Development Rights Purchased


6-13-07

http://www.mendocinolandtrust.org/?Home:What%27s_New

Ridgewood Ranch Oak Woodlands Conservation Easement Finalized

The Mendocino Land Trust has purchased a 1,689-acre conservation easement from the Golden Rule Church Association on the historic Ridgewood Ranch in Willits, California. The conservation easement permanently conserves conifer forest, oak woodland, and rangeland on Ridgewood Ranch. It is the second of several conservation easements that are proposed on the 5,000-acre ranch – home to the legendary racehorse Seabiscuit. The $2 million purchase price for the Oak Woodlands Conservation Easement is substantially less than market value and represents a significant bargain sale from the landowner, the Golden Rule Church Association. For more of this press release click here.

“We are delighted to have conserved the Ranch’s oak woodlands, and we could not have achieved this milestone without the support of the California Wildlife Conservation Board and a generous donation of value by the landowner, the Golden Rule Church Association, “ said Mendocino Land Trust Executive Director James Bernard.

Ridgewood Ranch has eight types of oaks and 2,250 acres of oak woodlands in total. California’s oak woodlands sustain higher levels of biodiversity than virtually any other terrestrial ecosystem in the state. More than 300 species depend on oak woodlands for food and shelter. Intact oak woodlands protect soils from erosion and landslides, regulate water flow in watersheds, and maintain water quality in streams and rivers.

The California Wildlife Conservation Board provided a grant to the Land Trust for the acquisition of the conservation easement on the oak woodlands and associated costs. “We were very pleased to provide funding to the Mendocino Land Trust to protect the oak woodlands of Ridgewood Ranch,” said WCB Executive Director John Donnelly. “We are excited to see the pieces coming together to conserve this beautiful Ranch.”

The conservation easement includes 4.75 miles of Riparian Protection Area that follows portions of Walker and Forsythe Creeks (fish bearing streams) and seven miles of critical Class II tributaries of the two creeks. To afford special features the best protection, a “wet meadow” and a vernal pool are also included in the Oak Woodlands conservation easement although they are located geographically inside a proposed Agricultural Conservation Easement area adjacent to the Oak Woodlands acreage. “The members of the Golden Rule Church Association appreciate the support of the Wildlife Conservation Board and its staff and the cooperation of the Land Trust in working out the conservation easement,” said Tracy Livingston, representative of the Church. “We agreed to sell the conservation easement at considerably less than its value, because we believe that conserving the Ranch is the right thing to do.”

The conservation easement calls for 15 days of limited public access for passive recreation at no charge to the public that will be in addition to the six days of public access to the Ridgewood Ranch Redwoods Conservation Easement that was completed in March 2005. The Oak Woodlands Conservation Easement will completely surround a large second growth redwoods grove, which was been conserved with the assistance of the Save-the-Redwoods League.

The total purchase price of conservation easements protecting the Ranch’s redwoods, working agricultural lands, oak woodlands, working forestland, and transportation corridor is $6 million, covering some 4,500 acres of land, including nearly 5 miles of steelhead creeks, 2,250 acres of oak woodlands, and 3.5 miles of frontage on Highway 101. To date, the Mendocino Land Trust has received funding commitments from state and federal sources for $4.8 million.

For more information on the Ridgewood Ranch Conservation Area Project, visit

www.mendocinolandtrust.org

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