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Wednesday, February 13, 2008

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Eastern Sierra Land trust adds 480 acres to list of protected parcels

Tuesday, 29 January 2008

A 480-acre tract is now protected from development by a conservation easement granted to the Eastern Sierra Land Trust. The new owner, Ted Yednock, recently purchased the property (above) as the site for a family retreat. The location is adjacent to the Mono Basin National Forest Scenic Area.
By Ken Koerner --Register Staff

Longtime residents of the Eastern Sierra recall Mono Lake’s level dropping ever-lower, its water siphoned off to quench Southern California’s rapacious thirst. Turning that tide required an unrelenting effort spearheaded by the Friends of Mono Lake, whose commitment protected nature. Now a new friend has committed to protecting nature in the Mono Basin. New landowner Ted Yednock recently helped ensure open spaces in the hills to the north and east above Mono Lake will remain undeveloped by working with the Eastern Sierra Land Trust to secure a conservation easement. “It was an interesting project for us,” ESLT Lands Director Karen Ferrell-Ingram said, “as the prior landowners came to us asking if we knew someone that might buy their property, and preserve the property in its natural state.” When the land trust’s director first inspected the property it wasn’t exactly in a totally “natural” state. “There were junked vehicles parked out there that had been accumulating over the previous five to six years,” said Ferrell-Ingram. “Plus, there were quite a few other discarded things laying around that were going to have to be removed, too.” Despite the need for some significant clean-up and restoration efforts on the property, it was clear to the ESLT that this 480-acre tract represented an excellent chance to preserve a key parcel of Mono Basin land in perpetuity. All the conservation agency had to do was find a buyer wishing to purchase such a large piece of very valuable land, accept the costs of its clean-up – and enter into a forever-agreement to protect it from extensive development. No problem.“The ESLT began going through our usual process,” Ferrell-Ingram said, “ensuring that a conservation easement in this case fit entirely within our guidelines – and it clearly did.” At that point, the ESLT’s board, its members and friends of members “began asking around” in the hopes of locating that perfect buyer. “One of our members,” said Ferrell-Ingram, “was speaking with a friend in the San Francisco Bay area – a person they knew loved this region – and this gentleman expressed his interest in that first conversation.”A life-long fondness for hiking, rock-hunting and camping had brought Yednock and his family on numerous outings to the open areas of Western Nevada and Eastern California. Yednock had also been wanting to find an unspoiled spot that could become the location for future family retreats. When he learned from his ESLT friend of the opportunity to acquire this large parcel of open land overlooking the Mono Lake Basin, it seemed a perfect fit for the Yednock family’s plans.The 480 acres Yednock purchased is accessible from State Route 167 and is situated approximately one mile from the Mono Basin National Forest Scenic Area and is adjacent to the recently preserved, 3,700-acre Cedar Hills property. Surrounded on three sides by Bureau of Land Management property, the Yednock tract consists of undisturbed alkali dune scrub and scattered juniper trees, which, according to the ESLT, are habitat for many species of wildlife.“In addition to acquiring a beautiful place to enjoy time spent with family,” Ferrell-Ingram said, “Mr. Yednock will also enjoy significant federal tax breaks in exchange for his willingness to enter into this conservation easement.” According to the ESLT, each conservation easement requires a very individual approach to reach a common goal. “While every easement we oversee will have some distinct aspect,” said Ferrell-Ingram, “each of them is created to protect the land from significant development and the conservation mandate remains with the deed to that land, so it lasts forever.”Work has already been undertaken by the new owner to get those old vehicles and the other eye-sores removed from the property, so that the family’s dream of their cabin in the wilderness may some day come true.

Ferrell-Ingram encourages anyone with an interest in the conservation and preservation of Eastern Sierra lands to contact the Eastern Sierra Land Trust and learn more about how to become a member or simply volunteer in support of its mission. Naturally, property owners are also encouraged to learn more about how conservation easements can create advantages for them personally, as well as protecting land in its natural state for everyone. The ESLT can be reached at (760) 873-4554.

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