ALC Conserves 6,000 acres of Ranchlands and Vital Habitat in the Central Valley
JS Ranch is part of ALC's campaign to conserve 22,000 acres in 2011.
For Christine McArthur, itâ€™s not just about the ranch she and her husband have cared for since 1999. Itâ€™s about people and wildlife all throughout Californiaâ€™s Central Valley. â€œWeâ€™re all in this together,â€ says Christine.
In May, working with ALC, Christine and her husband George placed a conservation easement on their 5,940-acre Shasta County property, which has been a cattle ranch since the 1860s. The easement permanently protects vital wildlife habitat, water resources, and more than six miles of perennial streams supporting native fish.
Those benefits will be felt a long way beyond the beautiful JS Ranch, boosting salmon recovery efforts in the Sacramento River and its tributaries, preserving ranching traditions in the Cow Creek watershed, and indirectly supporting the livelihoods of commercial fishermen up and down the California coast. The easement also helps fulfill the goals of numerous conservation plans for the region.
â€œThe McArthurs have an admirable land ethic,â€ said Edward Stanton, ALC Central Valley program manager and a wildlife biologist. â€œBefore and after aerial photos of the ranch clearly show that the range and creeks have benefited from the management practices they introduced.â€
George McArthur is behind much of that success. â€œWe put a lot of energy into improving the range for both cattle and wildlife,â€ he says. â€œWe now see elk out here every year, and we always enjoy seeing the salmon return to the ranch with the first fall rains.â€
ALC has worked with the McArthur family since 2007 to secure a conservation easement on the ranch. Funding was provided by the California Wildlife Conservation Board and the USDAâ€™s Natural Resources Conservation Service, who also helped the McArthurs create a grazing plan and will continue to help manage the range. (Learn more about the easement.)
The American Land Conservancy is also continuing its work with the McArthurs, currently creating a plan to improve irrigation efficiency, water quality, and salmon habitat on the ranch. The project is funded by a grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.
The JS Ranch project is part of ALCâ€™s Central Valley & Foothills Program, which conserves vital wildlife habitat and working ranchlands in one of the fastest growing regions of California. The 400-mile long Central Valley is a rich agricultural center that provides habitat to 60 percent of the migratory waterfowl along the Pacific Flyway and refuge for over 100 endangered or threatened species. It is also one of the fastest growing regions in the state and has experienced extensive loss of critical habitat and prime agricultural land over the last century.