By Ben Miles
Shasta Land Trust has completed a conservation easement on the 5,000-acre Cow Creek Ranch in Shasta County.
The completed easement represents the conclusion of over two years of coordinated efforts by the owners of Cow Creek Ranch, Shasta Land Trust, and their partner organization, the Trust for Public Land.
This conservation easement will prevent further development on the ranch, protecting the many natural resources on the property and ensuring that it remains open space available for ranching purposes.
Located along Whitmore Road, the ranch is owned by the Cow Creek Ranch Limited Partnership. The 4,915-acre cattle ranch will remain in private ownership and may continue to be used for productive ranching uses under the terms of the conservation easement.
The vast acreage of Cow Creek Ranch features an impressive array of habitat types that support many species of wildlife. Blue oak and black oak woodlands, riparian corridors along several creeks, ponderosa pine stands, springs, and ponds all can be found on the property, along with vast expanses of upland dryland grazing areas.
The Cow Creek Ranch will not be open to the public as a result of the conservation easement, but some limited visitation may be conducted by Shasta Land Trust on an annual basis in the future.
Shasta Land Trust is a local non-profit conservation organization, formed in Redding in 1998. Working only with willing landowners who are motivated to conserve their property, Shasta Land Trust has helped conserve over 16,000 acres of land in this region.
The conservation easement on Cow Creek Ranch joins similar Shasta Land Trust easements for over 8,000 acres of ranches in the Cow Creek watershed, helping support the local ranching economy and ensuring the diverse natural resources of the region continue to thrive for generations to come.
The conservation easement was purchased from the Cow Creek Limited Partnership with funds provided by the Wildlife Conservation Board of California, as well as the Preserving Wild California program of the Resources Legacy Fund. Support for Shasta Land Trust is derived from its many supporters and members.
The conservation easement for Cow Creek Ranch permits a handful of residences on the nearly 5,000 acres, but prohibits any additional residential development on the property. Continued grazing is permitted, as is the ability to maintain the necessary ranching and agricultural infrastructure. The property will remain in private ownership and may be sold or passed down to heirs, but will remain under the restrictions of the conservation easement in perpetuity. The ranch will continue to support the local ranching economy, provide important wildlife habitat, provide clean water from its springs and streams, and offer scenic views of its natural expanses for many generations to come.
Ben Miles is executive director of the Shasta Land Trust of Shasta County.