Community Protects Critical Wildlife Corridor on Cuyama Valley Ranch

California Rangeland Trust announces the permanent conservation of the 300-acre Rock Front Ranch.


(SANTA MARIA, CA) – April 7, 2020

Today, the California Rangeland Trust announced the permanent conservation of the 300-acre Rock Front Ranch near Santa Maria, California. The ranch remains privately-owned, while the terms of the conservation easement ensure the conserved land will be available for grazing livestock and wildlife to continue to thrive in perpetuity. Funding for this project was made possible by contributions from the community.

“The Rock Front Ranch stands as the western gateway to the Cuyama Valley – one of the last remaining untouched valleys in California,” said Nita Vail, outgoing CEO of the Rangeland Trust. “Thanks to the support of the community, this small but mighty ranch will forever function as a strategic buffer to protect the area’s natural resources and vibrant wildlife habitat.”

The property’s large rock face, which serves as the namesake for the ranch, serves as a sanctuary for migrating birds like peregrine and prairie falcons, as well as California condor and Swainson’s hawk. The ranch also serves as a critical wildlife corridor for animals needing to reach larger conserved territories in Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, and Ventura Counties. Located on the ranch is a wildlife underpass which connects the Los Padres National Forest to the Cuyama Valley. This route of passage allows wildlife to move safely throughout the area without having to cross bustling Highway 166, which runs through the region.

“The connection to public and private land is absolutely critical in California, especially in Santa Barbara County where there has been a substantial amount of fragmentation of private lands,” said Matthew Shapero, livestock and range advisor in Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties for the University of California Cooperative Extension. “To have this ranch be up against and abut to tens of thousands of acres of public lands is an indispensable connection to have in perpetuity.”

The Rock Front Ranch served as an ambassador project for rangeland conservation throughout the state. It marks the first California Rangeland Trust conservation project to be 100% funded by private contributions.

“More than 200 donors throughout California rallied together to help make this conservation project a success,” said Michael Delbar, COO and incoming CEO of the Rangeland Trust. “These incredible donors are helping to forever safeguard wildlife habitat, natural resources, land for local food production, and open space in the scenic Cuyama Valley.”

“I’d really like to express my appreciation to the people in the community who understood the value of having a conservation easement, what it would mean to us for the future, and what it means to have open working landscapes in California,” said Rock Front Ranch owner Alisha Taff. “It’s beyond one small, little ranch; it’s much bigger than that.”

By conserving the Rock Front Ranch, the land and its natural ecosystem will remain forever intact and will benefit future generations of people, livestock and wildlife.


The California Rangeland Trust, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, was created to serve the land, people, and wildlife by conserving California’s working rangelands. To date, the Rangeland Trust has conserved more than 342,008 acres of productive grazing lands across the state through the use of conservation easements. For more information, visit