BISHOP, CA –The Eastern Sierra Land Trust (ESLT) announces the completion of their largest conservation easement to date on Sceirine Point Ranch, showcasing how conservation and sustainable agriculture effectively work together.
Owners Joe and David Sceirine have sold an agricultural conservation easement of 2,375 acres that will protect native grassland, the greater sage-grouse and mule deer, while allowing the property to be used for livestock grazing.
For three generations, the Sceirine family has owned and operated a successful beef
cattle ranching business in Bridgeport Valley, an emerald valley crowned by the
peaks of Yosemite National Park located between the ghost town of Bodie and
Yosemite National Park. This high mountain meadow is laced with creeks and
wetlands, providing a haven for diverse wildlife such as mule deer, waterfowl,
migratory songbirds, and some of the best habitat in California for the greater sagegrouse.
“We wanted to maintain our identity and preserve our lifestyle as cowboys and
ranchers,” said David Sceirine. “It is my dream that three generations from now,
Sceirine descendants not even born yet, will be able to own and work this land to
continue with our family legacy.”
Conservation easements protect land for future generations while ensuring owners
retain certain property rights. Through an easement, landowners transfer only those
rights necessary to protect specific conservation values, such as wildlife habitat.
Easements are individually tailored to meet a landowner’s goals and the conservation
values of the land. Because the land remains in private ownership, with the remainder
of the rights intact, an agricultural easement property continues to provide economic
benefits for the region in the form of jobs, productivity, and property taxes.
Much of the funding for this project was provided by USDA’s Natural Resources
Conservation Service (NRCS). NRCS provides financial and technical resources that
help landowners and partners protect the nation’s most productive grasslands,
wetlands, and agricultural lands by providing funding to purchase easements on
private working lands. NRCS’ Agricultural Conservation Easement Program that
protects grasslands of special significance was an ideal funding vehicle for Sceirine
Point Ranch because of the habitat the ranch provides for Bi-State greater sagegrouse.
It is the first of several pending projects using NRCS funds, which come from
the 2014 Farm Bill.
Additional funding was secured from the Sustainable Agricultural Lands
Conservation (SALC) Program. The SALC Program is part of California Climate
Investments (CCI), a statewide program 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. The
Cap-and-Trade program also creates a financial incentive for industries to invest in
clean technologies and develop innovative ways to reduce pollution.
“The Bridgeport Valley is one of California’s hidden gems, and I congratulate all the
parties who had a role in creating an agricultural conservation easement on the
Sceirine Point Ranch,” said David Bunn, Director of the California Department of
Conservation. “Our department is pleased to be part of the SALC program, which
achieves the important benefits of both conserving agricultural land and reducing
greenhouse gas emissions. This easement also has the added effect of protecting
wildlife habitat, wetland areas, and riparian corridors, which I find very gratifying.”
In addition to helping conserve important grasslands and supporting the local
ranching community, this agricultural conservation easement prevents Sceirine Point
Ranch from conversion to residential or commercial development or crops.
Preventing these changes and maintaining the native grassland will avoid greenhouse
gas emissions equivalent to 45,637 metric tons of carbon, according to an analysis by
the SALC Program. The project also received a grant from California Deer
Association, a privately funded sportsmen’s group that improves habitat for
California deer herds and other wildlife through direct financial support for habitat
improvement and research projects.
“It is such an incredible victory to secure the protection of Sceirine Point Ranch for
economic sustainability and the breathtakingly scenic Bridgeport Valley,” said Kay
Ogden, Executive Director of ESLT. “We are extremely grateful to the Sceirine
family’s long-term vision and all our partners for their dedication to preserve this
historic working ranch and important home for wildlife for generations to come.”
ABOUT EASTERN SIERRA LAND TRUST
Eastern Sierra Land Trust works with willing landowners to protect vital lands in the
Eastern Sierra region for their scenic, agricultural, natural, recreational, historical, and
watershed values. To learn more about ESLT’s work and how to get involved, visit
ABOUT OUR FUNDING PARTNERS
The USDA’s National Resource Conservation Service helps America’s farmers,
ranchers and forest landowners conserve the nation’s soil, water, air and other natural
resources. All programs are voluntary and offer science-based solutions that benefit
both the landowner and the environment. www.nrcs.usda.gov.
California Climate Investments projects include affordable housing, renewable
energy, public transportation, zero-emission vehicles, environmental restoration,
more sustainable agriculture, recycling, and much more. At least 35 percent of these
investments are located within and benefit residents of disadvantaged communities,
low-income communities, and low-income households across California.
California Deer Association is a non, profit, tax exempt wildlife conservation
organization whose principle goal is to improve California deer herds and other
wildlife through direct financial support for habitat improvement and research