December 12, 2019 by Markie Hageman

California Rangeland Trust has conserved more than 330,000 acres of land in its twenty-one years, a number we don’t take lightly. It is our responsibility to ensure the terms of each conservation agreement are being upheld and the land is well-preserved. We do this, in part, through an annual process called “monitoring.” where we visit each conserved property.

Monitoring the Walker Ranch in Livermore, CA

How do we do this?

Once a year, a representative of the Rangeland Trust visits our landowners and takes a tour of their conserved properties. Our rangeland stewardship specialist, one of our board members, or a contracted certified rangeland manager will meet the landowners to perform the monitoring. Through this process, we can identify if any issues have arisen since our last visit that may go against the terms of the voluntary conservation agreement. Types of infractions vary since each agreement is tailored to meet the needs of that rancher, but an example may include unauthorized building construction on the land or trees being removed from the area.

Our monitoring visits to each conserved property follow a relatively simple process:

  • Take photos from specific monitoring points on the land to compare with the prior years’ photos
  • Fill out a checklist based upon observations
  • Both Rangeland Trust and landowner sign the paperwork
  • Our representative reviews and compares all observations to ensure compliance and keeps a running record of all monitoring visits.

What happens if there are any violations?

If there are ever any issues with an agreement, the Rangeland Trust discusses concerns with the landowner, first and foremost, to identify the problem and seek to provide a solution. A specific time-frame may be established to allow the landowner time to address the issue, otherwise evidence of the infraction will be on the annual monitoring report. If the problem isn’t solved in a timely manner, documentation of the violation is provided in annual reports to be used if litigation is required. The entire process is done as amicably as possible in order to maintain a good, mutually beneficial relationship with the landowners.

Monitoring the Walker Ranch in Livermore, CA

Why is all this so important, though?

Our duty is to provide a haven, not only for wildlife, but for ranching families as well. Our voluntary conservation easement agreements provide an opportunity to collaborate with landowners in order to protect the land, water, air, animals, and heritage forever. Monitoring encourages communication and a good working relationship with the landowner to prevent any violations of the terms of the easement and ensures that the land is stewarded and protected in perpetuity.

Image of wind fan in field
Monitoring the Walker Ranch in Livermore, CA