Historical Farmland in Yolo County Permanently Shielded from Development

Dec 20, 2010, 12:00 ET from USDA - Natural Resources Conservation Service

DAVIS, Calif., Dec. 20, 2010 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- When Bruce and Judy Clark purchased the first 20 acres of their now 140-acre farm in Yolo County, preserving the agricultural legacy of the property was extremely important to them.  Now, more than 25 years later, placing Clark Farm into a permanent conservation easement with the Yolo Land Trust guarantees it will not be developed for generations to come.  

"This farm is more than a century old and it is extremely important to Bruce and me that it remains intact for centuries to come," said Judy Clark.  The Clarks will continue to grow organic tomatoes, alfalfa, sunflower and beans on the land.  

Purchase of this conservation easement was made possible through a partnership agreement involving the Yolo Land Trust, the California Department of Conservation (DOC), the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and the County of Yolo.  In addition, the Clarks contributed 25 percent of the value of the easement in the form of a bargain sale.  This land will add to the emerging Davis/Woodland community greenbelt along Dry Slough, and provide future opportunities to link nearby conservation easements.

Clark Farm, located between Davis and Winters in Yolo County, is now permanently protected from land development.  The farm will continue to be privately owned by the Clarks and will remain on the county tax rolls.  The property is considered prime for conservation due to its healthy soils and riparian corridors, which cross the property.  It also provides wildlife habitat for both common and protected wildlife species, including nesting and foraging habitat for Swainson's hawk.  

"Clark Farm is a critical piece to protecting the Dry Slough corridor and the myriad of wildlife that nest there," said Mary Kimball, Yolo Land Trust Board of Directors President.  "Together with the Clarks, I am thrilled that we are able to preserve this beautiful farm for future generations.  We are grateful to all our partners for their contributions."

The Yolo Land Trust is a private, non-profit corporation founded in 1988 that works with landowners interested in preserving the conservation resources of their property, such as farmland, soils, habitat, and open space in Yolo County.  To date, Yolo Land Trust has helped landowners place conservation easements on almost 9,000 acres, permanently protecting their land for future generations.  For more information about the Yolo Land Trust, please visit http://www.yololandtrust.org.

NRCS contributed $550,000 through its Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program (FRPP) toward creating the easement.  FRPP is a voluntary easement program that protects productive agricultural land by purchasing conservation easements to limit conversion of farm and ranch lands to non-agricultural uses.  Since 1996, NRCS has provided $21 million on 50 farms across the state, and leveraged an additional $38 million from landowners and partners, for a total investment of $59 million in conservation easements.

"Protecting this productive farmland from development ensures it will be a benefit to local agriculture and the overall landscape for years to come," said Ed Burton, State Conservationist for California.  "I am proud of the landowners' and partners' efforts to make this easement possible."

Through its California Farmland Conservancy Program (CFCP), DOC provided $275,000 in bond funds to help create the easement.  To date, CFCP has provided $68 million in funding to permanently shield about 43,000 acres of the state's best and most vulnerable agricultural land from development. For more information, please visit www.conservation.ca.gov/dlrp.

"Yolo County has some of California's best farmland, and we hope that other local farmers and ranchers explore the conservation easement option for their property," said Brian Leahy, head of DOC's Division of Land Resource Protection.  "These easements provide economic stability that help farm families make long term investments in their most valuable asset -- their land."

Funds were also contributed by the County of Yolo through its Farmland Mitigation Program.

Since 1935, NRCS has provided conservation-related products and services that enable people to be good stewards of the nation's soil, water, and related natural resources on non-federal lands.  With NRCS's help, people are better able to conserve, maintain, or improve their natural resources.  FRPP is just one of the many easement, conservation planning, and cost-share assistance programs in our Conservation Toolkit.  For more information, please visit http://www.ca.nrcs.usda.gov.  

SOURCE USDA - Natural Resources Conservation Service