Heritage and innovation on the Van Vleck Ranch.
The Van Vleck Ranch sits directly across the highway from 3,000 homes. While the Van Vlecks had an opportunity to sell the ranch for development, they instead made the decision to preserve the ranch for future generations. In 2017 and 2019, the Van Vlecks worked with the Rangeland Trust to conserve 285 acres and 450 acres respectively. Both were mitigation projects, funded by private developers, to offset nearby developmental impacts on habitat.
Unlike traditional easements where proximity to urban areas or prime cropland greatly affect the easement value as determined by an appraisal of the highest land use, mitigation conservation easements value land for habitat, the value of which is privately negotiated between the developer and the landowner. Under the right circumstances, this can generate a “seller’s market”. The Van Vlecks are strategically investing the proceeds from the mitigation easements into commercial property. The income generated from these efforts will help supplement their cattle operation (as ranching is not typically a very lucrative business) without taking on debt or selling land and reducing the size of the cattle operation.