The Land Trust currently holds 29 conservation easements in Butte and Tehama counties covering over 15,500 acres. Our smallest easement is 0.39 acre, while our largest acquisition is 4,235 acres. In addition to conserving working landscapes and prime farmland, we are also interested in conservation easements that protect natural resources and regional biodiversity. As such, many of our easements preserve natural oak woodlands, riparian areas, conifer forest, grasslands and a large population of special-status Butte County checkerbloom. The majority of these properties are in the Sierra Nevada foothills.
In August 2013, The Land Trust acquired a 96-acre agricultural conservation easement on the Pamma-Larkin property in Butte County near Gridley. The purpose of the agricultural conservation easement is to enable the property, currently a peach orchard, to remain in productive agricultural use by preventing uses of the property that will impair or interfere with its agricultural productive capacity, its soils, and its agricultural character, values, and utility. Funding for the purchase of the agricultural conservation easement was provided by the Department of Conservation’s California Farmland Conservancy Program and the Natural Resources Conservation Service’s Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program.
In July 2013, The Land Trust acquired conservation easements on three private properties along Little Chico Creek in Butte County totaling approximately 364 acres. The project facilitated the connection of the three private properties to 170 acres of land that is already protected and owned by the Department of Fish and Wildlife resulting in the permanent protection of approximately 534 contiguous acres and one river mile of habitat within the Little Chico Creek Watershed. With funding for the acquisitions provided by the California Wildlife Conservation Board’s Oak Woodland Protection Program, the project also permanently protects approximately 309 acres of Blue Oak Woodland.
In August 2011, The Land Trust acquired a 520-acre agricultural conservation easement on the Home Place property in Tehama County approximately three miles from the Red Bluff Sphere of Influence near the communities of Proberta, Gerber and Las Flores. The purpose of the agricultural conservation easement is to enable the property to remain in productive agricultural use by preventing uses of the property that will impair or interfere with its agricultural productive capacity, its soils, and its agricultural character, values, and utility. Funding for the purchase of the agricultural conservation easement was provided by the Department of Conservation’s California Farmland Conservancy Program and the Natural Resources Conservation Service’s Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program.
In June 2011, The Land Trust acquired a 146-acre agricultural conservation easement on the Comanche Creek property in northwestern Butte County in an unincorporated area approximately four-tenths of a mile south of the City of Chico and its Agricultural Greenline. The property has recently been planted with walnuts, but prior to that, it was an almond orchard. The purpose of the agricultural conservation easement is to enable the property to remain in productive agricultural use by preventing uses of the property that will impair or interfere with its agricultural productive capacity, its soils, and its agricultural character, values, and utility. Funding for the purchase of the agricultural conservation easement was provided by the Department of Conservation’s California Farmland Conservancy Program and the Natural Resources Conservation Service’s Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program.
In December 2010, The Land Trust acquired a 3,356-acre conservation easement on the Burrows Ranch in western Tehama County. The Ranch is managed “holistically” with the purpose being “diversity of enterprises” and capturing as much sunlight energy as possible. The conservation easement encourages agricultural production, cattle grazing and habitat protection, and directly supports a diversified and vibrant agriculture and agro-tourism operation. Conservation values protected by the easement include thousands of acres of blue oak woodland and savannah, as well as annual grassland, working farmland, chamise-redshank chaparral, spring-fed wetlands, intermittent and perennial streams, riparian habitat along Red Bank Creek and North Fork Elder Creek, scenic open space, and habitat supporting several special-status species including valley elderberry longhorn beetle, foothill yellow-legged frog, and California red-legged frog. The project is also contiguous with land owned by the Bureau of Land Management and Mendocino National Forest, providing an essential buffer to help prevent the area from being compromised by incompatible land use. Funding for the purchase of the conservation easement was provided by the California Wildlife Conservation Board’s Oak Woodland Protection Program. Additional support was provided by Defenders of Wildlife, CAL FIRE, Natural Resource Conservation Service, Partners for Fish and Wildlife, the California Rangeland Conservation Coalition, California Cattlemen’s Association, California Department of Fish and Game, and The Nature Conservancy.
In December 2010, The Land Trust acquired a 3,776-acre conservation easement on the Big Bluff Ranch in western Tehama County. Family owned since 1960, Big Bluff Ranch has transitioned from a seasonal farming and stocker cattle operation into a sustainably managed ranch utilizing year-round grazing and the Holistic Management Model. The outcome of this management regime is a healthy landscape with many marketable options including livestock products, hunting, fishing, and other non-consumptive activities, such eco-tourism in a vibrant, clean and healthy watershed. The conservation easement encourages agricultural production, cattle grazing and habitat protection, and directly supports a diversified and vibrant agriculture and agro-tourism operation. Conservation values protected by the easement include thousands of acres of blue oak woodland and savannah, as well as annual grassland, working farmland, chamise-redshank chaparral, spring-fed wetlands, intermittent and perennial streams, riparian habitat along Red Bank Creek, scenic open space, and habitat supporting several special-status species including valley elderberry longhorn beetle, foothill yellow-legged frog, and California red-legged frog. The project is also contiguous with land owned by the Bureau of Land Management and Mendocino National Forest, providing an essential buffer to help prevent the area from being compromised by incompatible land use. Funding for the purchase of the conservation easement was provided by the California Wildlife Conservation Board’s Oak Woodland Protection Program. Additional support was provided by Defenders of Wildlife, CAL FIRE, Natural Resource Conservation Service, Partners for Fish and Wildlife, the California Rangeland Conservation Coalition, California Cattlemen’s Association, California Department of Fish and Game, and The Nature Conservancy.
In December 2008, The Land Trust recorded the 640-acre R&R Ranch conservation easement. R&R Ranch is located in southeastern Tehama County and is surrounded by TNC’s Dye Creek Preserve to the south and DFG’s Tehama Wildlife Area to the north, west and east. The landscape is dissected dramatically by Long Gulch and has rocky outcroppings, a clearwater creek, pristine springs and diverse oak woodlands.
In July 2007, The Land Trust acquired a 1,080-acre conservation easement on the historic Leininger Camp property along the western perimeter of the Ishi Wilderness Area in eastern Tehama County. The easement contributes to one of The Nature Conservancy’s (TNC) largest California conservation projects, the Lassen Foothills Project, which interfaces with our acquisition (the Ishi Wilderness Area is in the heart of the Lassen Foothills Project Area). Specific conservation values of the property include undisturbed grassland, blue oak woodlands, wetlands, natural stream courses and waterways, unfragmented open space, corridors for the unimpaired passage of wildlife, natural communities that provide habitat for native wildlife species, including the Tehama Deer Herd, raptors, waterfowl, and many species of common and rare plants and animals. Funding for the purchase of the conservation easement was provided by the Resources Legacy Fund Foundation’s Preserving Wild California Program (PWC) whose mission is “to preserve California’s wildlands and rivers, and to ensure their permanent protection by investing in systematic acquisitions of land and fostering supportive policies, organizations, and constituencies.”
In June 2006, The Land Trust unveiled its largest project, protecting 4,235 acres of the Llano Seco Rancho in Butte County. This conservation easement provides for 1,870-acres of agricultural production, 1,715-acres of cattle grazing and protects 736 acres of pristine riparian habitat. The Llano Seco Rancho is one of the last remaining intact Mexican Land Grant ranches in California totaling 18,434 acres, located south of Ord Ferry Road and east of the Sacramento River. Approximately three quarters of Llano Seco have some form of protection in place. Placement of this easement will ensure that virtually all of the Llano Seco’s 18,434 acres are protected from development and as a working landscape. Funding for the purchase of the agricultural conservation easement on Llano Seco was provided by the California Wildlife Conservation Board, the California Department of Conservation and the California Department of Fish and Game.
Located on the northeast ridge of Butte Creek Canyon in Butte County, this 59-acre conservation easement was donated in 2004 and protects the natural condition of the land including ecological and evolutionary processes, hydrological processes, nutrient cycles and biotic interactions.
This 27-acre conservation easement protects oak woodland, riparian habitat and grassland in the foothills east of Chico in Butte County. It was donated in 2003 by a developer in order to fulfill a mitigation requirement by the City of Chico to preserve a large population of Butte County checkerbloom (Sidalcea robusta), a rare plant from the mallow family.
Donated in 2002 by Amanda Pyle, this 53-acre easement is located along the West Branch of the Feather River and protects native habitats, as well as ecological and evolutionary processes important to the area’s biodiversity.
Donated in 2002 by Amanda Pyle, this 32-acre easement located east of the Town of Paradise in Butte County overlooks Concow Creek and protects native habitats, as well as ecological and evolutionary processes important to the area’s biodiversity.
This 100-acre conservation easement was donated in 1999 and preserves ponderosa pine forest and oak woodland in upper Paradise while overlooking the West Branch of the Feather River. The primary purpose of the easement is to preserve ecological and evolutionary processes, and the natural, scenic, and open space values of the property.
Donated in 1998, this 2-acre conservation easement is located in Cherokee, Butte County. It is primarily for the preservation of native bio-diversity, viable populations of native species in natural patterns of abundance, ecological and evolutionary processes, preservation of natural and scenic values, and preservation of archeological and historical sites.
This 0.39-acre conservation easement near Cherokee in Butte County protects natural, scenic and open space. It was the first easement recorded by The Land Trust, which at the time was named the Parks and Preserves Foundation.
Donated in 1995, the purpose of this conservation easement is to preserve the natural beauty and biodiversity of the land. The easement protects 0.57-acre of riparian habitat near Cherokee in Butte County.
This 144-acre conservation easement was originally granted to the Butte County Land Trust in 1985 to preserve the land for its natural, scenic, agricultural, historic, forested and open space values. The Land Trust (then called the Parks and Preserves Foundation) assumed responsibility of holding the easement in 1995.
The primary purpose of this 8-acre conservation easement is the preservation of the bio-diversity of all native ecosystem types across their natural range of variation on the property, which is located near the Town of Paradise in Butte County.
On March 30, 2012, The Land Trust acquired the 600-acre Lower Deer Creek Falls property in fee located in eastern Tehama County, California. The property was conveyed to The Land Trust for the purpose of acquiring habitat to protect rare, endangered, threatened or fully protected species within its riparian corridor, canyon slopes and hillsides and to continue to provide compatible public access and use. The property was initially acquired from Sierra Pacific Industries by Western Rivers Conservancy. Western Rivers Conservancy then conveyed the property to The Land Trust through an acquisition grant provided by the Wildlife Conservation Board.
In June 2011, The Land Trust recorded a voluntary conservation easement with Landowner George Nicolaus. This agricultural conservation easement conserves approximately 146 acres of prime farmland 0.5 mile west of the City of Chico’s Green Line. It has high value crop-type that has been cropped in the last two years (almond orchard) and the development pressure on the property was deemed high due to the precarious nature of the Green Line.
This is our most recent agriculture conservation easement, and it was acquired in October, 2015. The McClintock property consists of approximately 75 acres and is 0.05 miles west of the City of Chico’s Green Line and western Sphere of Influence boundary. The property is open farmland, whose soils have been classified as Prime Farmland by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, and by the California Department of Conservation’s Farmland Mapping and Monitoring Program.
Originally donated in December of 2001 by local conservationist Amanda Pyle, this 51-acre easement is located on Jordon Hill opposite the Town of Paradise and protects native habitats, as well as ecological and evolutionary processes important to the area’s biodiversity.
Tozier Ranch 108.84 acres is located near Hwy 70 approximately 8 miles northeast of Oroville, Ca and approx. 8 miles southeast of Chico. This was originally conserved in 2009 with Golden State Land Conservancy then transferred to Northern Ca Regional Land Trust in June, 2013. The purpose of the Tozier Ranch Conservation Easement is to preserve and protect the property’s open space, agricultural, natural and scenic values.
In October 2014, the Land Trust acquired an agricultural conservation easement on the Westover Orchard property which consists of approximately 144 acres located approximately three miles south of the Red Bluff Sphere of Influence and approximately 1.5 miles northeast of the communities of Proberta and Gerber/ Las Flores in Tehama County. The property is open farmland, whose soils have been classified as Prime Farmland. Currently, the land use consists of an irrigated walnut orchard.
A conservation easement is a voluntary agreement between a landowner and a qualified land trust, conservation group or government agency regarding the future uses of private property. The conservation easement is recorded and becomes part of the deed to the property. We tailor our conservation easements are tailored to fit a landowner’s individual situation, and the terms of the easement are established only after detailed discussions between the landowner and The Land Trust take place. Landowners continue to have complete control over public access to their property after the completion of a conservation easement. Through an agricultural conservation easement, landowners can protect their property to ensure that future generations have continued opportunities to ranch. At the same time, agricultural conservation easements contribute to maintaining the viability of a region’s agriculture, sustain biological resources within the ranch, provide watershed protection and vistas of working landscapes for the enjoyment of the public. The donation of a conservation easement to the Rangeland Trust may significantly reduce federal and state income, estate and inheritance taxes. The sale of a conservation easement to the Rangeland Trust may provide a ranching operation with a much-needed influx of capital to pay down outstanding debt or to reinvest in the ranch. Adapted from California’s Rangeland Trust Agricultural Easement Narrative, available here.
When the landowner donates the purchase price of the conservation easement for significant tax benefits.
When the purchase price of the conservation easement is paid for by one or more funding organizations, groups or agencies This still offers tax benefits to the landowner.
The ranchers’ needs may require the blending of any combination of the above easement types.
These help the offset expected adverse impacts of development on loss of farmland, habitat or riparian areas. Paid for by the developer or mitigating group.
To apply for an easement or project with The Land Trust, please fill out the following form and send it back to us. If you need more information or have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.
As an organization we have identified four priority conservation areas in the tri-county region including irrigated farmland, grasslands used for ranching, non-working landscapes, and land needing protection for mitigation purposes. In an effort to meet these conservation needs head on, The Land Trust now has developed four well-defined conservation programs we hope will galvanize the community as a whole.
One of the primary goals of The Land Trust’s Strategic Plan is agricultural land protection. This includes identifying prime agricultural lands and natural areas that protect and enhance the unique characteristics of Butte, Glenn and Tehama counties and providing information to those landowners who want to conserve their land in perpetuity. The Land Trust serves Butte, Glenn and Tehama counties where 425,014 acres of prime farmland were mapped by the Farmland Mapping and Monitoring Program in 2004. Using those data, Butte County is comprised of approximately 197,556 acres of Prime Farmland; Glenn County 162,670 acres and Tehama County 64,788 acres. Implementing our Irrigated Farmland Protection Project (IFPP) and achieving our land protection agreement acquisition objectives require both willing buyers and sellers. The concept of agricultural conservation is relatively new to the region, and farmers are not aware of their options of permanent land protection that land protection agreements can provide. The Land Trust is conducting an extensive landowner outreach program in an effort to foster long term agricultural land protection of the tri-county region.
The Land Trust has partnered with California FarmLink to facilitate development of a FarmLink program in the North State. The goal of FarmLink is to facilitate the conservation of working lands by connecting aspiring farmers to available agricultural lands and/or retiring farmers. Nationwide, the average farmer is 58 years old, and half of them are expected to retire in the next 10 to 15 years. At the same time however, there has been a rise in the number of people interested in entering an agricultural profession. The Land Trust believes connecting aspiring farmers to available land resources is a strategy that both sustain regional agricultural and helps conserve our working landscape. A recent survey of beginning farmers and ranchers in the North Valley identified that the primary barrier to a career in agriculture is access to land. To that end, developing innovative land-linking opportunities between those looking to start farming and farmers who are either retiring or have available land, is a crucial step toward breaking down the land access barrier in the North Valley. The Northern California Regional Land Trust and California FarmLink have developed such an opportunity through a collaborative partnership aimed at matching North Valley landowners with aspiring farmers and ranchers in Butte, Glenn and Tehama counties. With the goals of protecting farmland, strengthening independent family farms, and building sustainable food systems, the Land Trust and California FarmLink hope to help a new generation of aspiring farmers and ranchers find opportunities for accessing farmland.
California cattlemen, conservationists, and state and federal resource agency officials held a historic summit January 11, 2007 in Sacramento, California. The Land Trust’s former Executive Director Jamison Watts attended the all-day conference, which was called to develop a broad action plan to implement the California Rangeland Conservation Coalition Resolution, a statement of joint goals reached last year. As a signatory of the California Rangeland Conservation Coalition Resolution, The Land Trust works collaboratively with cattlemen, conservationists, and state and federal resource agency officials to protect and enhance the rangeland landscape that encircles California’s Central Valley and includes adjacent grasslands and oak woodlands by: 1. Keeping common species common on private working landscapes; 2. Working to recover imperiled species and enhancing habitat on rangelands while seeking to minimize regulations on private lands and streamline processes; 3. Supporting the long-term viability of the ranching industry and its culture by providing economic, social and other incentives and by reducing burdens to proactive stewardship on private ranchlands; 4. Increasing private, state and federal funding, technical expertise and other assistance to continue and expand the ranching community’s beneficial land stewardship practices that benefit sensitive species and are fully compatible with normal ranching practices; 5. Encouraging voluntary, collaborative and locally-led conservation that has proven to be very effective in maintaining and enhancing working landscapes; 6. Educating the public about the benefits of grazing and ranching in these rangelands. There are approximately 2,181,791 acres of rangeland in our tri-county region. With a projected increase of approximately 18 million people in the State’s population in the next 25 years, much of this land is at risk of disappearing forever. The Land Trust’s Rangeland Protection Program specifically targets regional rangeland for conservation.
The majority of our easements are considered wildlands, which we define as non-working landscapes (i.e., non-farming and/or ranching lands) with high conservation value. Wildlands are typically comprised of high-functioning natural community-types such as conifer forests, mixed woodlands, wetlands, grasslands and riparian areas. They provide scenic vistas, recreational opportunities, wildlife habitat, and clean water and air, and enhance the quality of life of present and future residents and visitors in Butte, Glenn and Tehama Counties.
Northern California is experiencing sharp increases in urban growth and impacts to sensitive natural resources are occurring at an accelerating rate. Development related projects and activities that impact legally protected natural resources (e.g., Waters of the United States, and habitat supporting and/or species listed under the Endangered Species Act), require mitigation under one or more local, state or federal laws, such as the Clean Water Act, and Federal Endangered Species Act. Acceptable mitigation often results in the permanent preservation of land supporting in-kind resources located in the same region or watershed as the impacted land, or habitat creation/restoration/enhancement projects on lands that have already been protected. Such projects require competent, long-term managers experienced with conserving lands and natural resources. The Northern California Regional Land Trust (The Land Trust) is such an entity. The Land Trust has strong expertise in creating conservation projects and managing lands and easements in perpetuity. The Land Trust also assists permitting agencies, project proponents and the public by offering high quality, professional services that help assure mitigation projects in Butte, Glenn and Tehama counties are well designed, have adequate financial resources, and a competent holder.
A conservation easement is a way for a landowner to permanently protect the conservation values of his or her land while continuing to own it. It is a legal agreement between a landowner (“grantor”) and a land trust (“grantee”) that permanently limits development. Conservation easements are tailor made to meet the needs of an individual landowner and can cover an entire parcel or portions of a property. Tax benefits and/or financial compensation are often available for grantors of conservation easements.
Conservation easements typically restrict development and subdivision to the degree that is necessary to protect the significant conservation values of that particular property. Some conservation easements include “home sites,” or areas known as “exclusions” where development is allowed. Generally, home sites or exclusions are small in size (1-2 acres) and located on areas low in conservation value. Landowners and land trusts work together to draft conservation easements that reflect both the landowner’s desires and the need to protect conservation values.
Most easements “run with the land,” binding the original owner and all subsequent owners to the easement’s restrictions. Only gifts of perpetual easements can qualify for income and estate tax benefits. The easement is recorded at the county or town records office so that all future owners and lenders will learn about the restrictions when they obtain title reports.
By granting a conservation easement on your property you are only giving up the right to subdivide and develop those areas covered by the easement. The landowner retains title to his or her property and therefore can still sell or use the property as collateral on a loan, restrict public assess, farm the land, and remain eligible for state and federal programs including the Williamson Act. Property subject to a conservation easement remains on the local tax roles.
The value of a conservation easement is the “fee” or fair market value of the property minus the value of the property with a conservation easement on it as determined by a qualified appraiser. Typically, more restrictive easement terms and higher, local development pressure increase the value of a conservation easement. For example, Ed Johnson owns land worth $1,000,000. With a conservation easement on the property it is worth $600,000. The value of the conservation easement is $400,000, which Ed can sell or donate to a qualified conservation organization like The Land Trust or government agency.
The Pension Reform bill passed in August 2006 helps family farmers, ranchers, and other moderate-income landowners get a significant tax benefit for making the charitable donation of a conservation easement, restricting future development of their land to protect an important public resource. The conservation tax incentive, in place for 26 years, has been adjusted to raise the maximum deduction a donor can take for donating a conservation easement from 30% of adjusted gross income in any year to 50%. 1. Allow farmers and ranchers who qualify under the IRS definition to deduct up to 100% of AGI and; 2. Extend the carry-forward period for a donor to take tax deductions for a voluntary conservation agreement from 5 to 15 years; 3. Although slated for expiration on December 31, 2007, the U.S. Senate Finance Committee recently approved the permanent extension of these benefits, which will go before Congress soon. Similar to the federal income tax incentives, most state income tax laws provide for charitable deductions of conservation easements. In addition, when a landowner donates or sells a conservation easement on their property, it usually reduces the value of land for estate tax purposes. To the extent that the restricted value is lower than fair market value, the estate will be subject to a lower tax. The Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001 expanded an estate tax incentive for landowners to grant conservation easements by removing the geographic eligibility requirements. Under Section 2031(c) of the tax code, executors can exclude 40% of the value of land subject to a donated, qualified conservation easement, regardless of location. This exclusion is limited to $500,000 but is in addition to any reduction in the value of the estate as a result of protecting the land with a conservation easement. The full benefit is available for easements that reduce the fair market value of the property by at least 30%. A smaller exclusion is available for easements that reduce property value by less than 30% (AFT 2006).
A land trust is a nonprofit organization that actively works to conserve land by undertaking or assisting in land or conservation easement acquisition, or by its stewardship of such land or easements.
No, they are independent organizations that work with landowners who are interested in protecting open land. However, land trusts often work cooperatively with government agencies in protecting or managing land, researching open space needs and priorities, or assisting in the development of open space plans.
Local and regional land trusts, organized as charitable organizations under federal tax laws, are directly involved in conserving land for its natural, recreational, scenic, historical and productive values. Land trusts can purchase land for permanent protection, or they may use one of several other methods: accept donations of land or the funds to purchase land, accept a bequest, or accept the donation of a conservation easement, which permanently limits the type and scope of development that can take place on the land. In some instances, land trusts also purchase conservation easements.
Yes there is! Conservation funding is becoming more available from bond measures, private funders, wildlife agencies and conservation organizations state and nation-wide. Some of the programs/organizations The Land Trust works with numerous partners including The Sierra Nevada Conservancy, USFS Forest Legacy Program, NRCS Farm and Ranchland Protection Program, California Dept. of Conservation (DOC) California Farmland Conservancy Program (CFCP), and the Wildlife Conservation Board (WCB)
20 years of experience executing regional conservation projects
Holder of 15 conservation easements covering over 6,400 acres of farmland, rangeland, wildland (non-working land), and mitigation land in Butte and Tehama counties.
Holder of 4,235-acre Llano Seco Rancho agricultural conservation easement
7 member Board of Directors
6 Working Committees
4 staff including Executive Director, Office Manager, Land Projects Coordinator and BFBL-NV Program Coordinator.
Contact the Northern California Regional Land Trust (The Land Trust) at (530) 894-7738 or firstname.lastname@example.org and request a Project Application.