Looking Back and Looking Forward

December 30, 2022 by Michael Delbar & Andy mills

What an incredible year 2022 was for the Rangeland Trust! Coming off the heels of the pandemic, we renewed our commitment to work harder than ever and closer than ever. And the results are a beautiful representation of what can be accomplished when we rally together in support for the land, people, and wildlife of our great state. But don’t just take our word for it…Read the list of highlights and check out the video recap below:

    • Seven ranches totaling nearly 8,500 acres of rangeland were conserved throughout California in 2022. That brings our overall total to 371,000 acres conserved to date. This is possible because of generous community support, federal and state agency grants, and partnerships with mitigators seeking to offset impacts.
    • We leveraged the results of our Ecosystem Services Study to demonstrate to state policymakers the value of working rangelands. These efforts included organizing an educational ranch tour for California Natural Resources Agency Secretary Wade Crowfoot, California Department of Food and Agriculture Secretary Karen Ross, and state legislators and their staff. And we’re happy to report that these efforts are already paying off. $250 million has been allocated to conservation programs through the Wildlife Conservation Board. That’s a huge win for the working lands in California!
    • Over 150 donors rallied together and helped us meet our goal of raising $1 million toward conservation of the 5,652-acre Spanish Ranch in the Cuyama Valley. Thanks to this wonderful community of supporters, we were able to match investments from local foundations, and we now have significant leverage to seek a second agency grant to close the funding gap and complete this important conservation project. 
    • We tipped our hats to the people who steward our magnificent rangelands at the inaugural Landowner Appreciation Dinner. Held in June in conjunction with the California Cattlemen’s Association Mid-Year Meeting, the event served to thank the ranching families that have helped the Rangeland Trust successfully conserve pristine rangeland for the benefit of all throughout the Golden State and beyond. 
    • We sold our office building in downtown Sacramento! Just like our conservation portfolio, the Rangeland Trust staff has also grown to meet the ever-increasing needs of our landowner partners. In the year ahead, we look forward to finding a new place within the Sacramento Region to better accomodate us. For now, the Rangeland Trust will continue to lease back the building at 1225 H Street until we find a new place to hang our cowboy and cowgirl hats.
    • Along with our colleagues through the Partnership of Rangeland Trusts, we assembled a coalition and developed a list of priorities to guide our advocacy activities surrounding the 2023 Farm Bill. We are hopeful this will result in needed changes to the Bill, including increased funding for agricultural conservation programs.  
    • As part of our commitment to connect people to the land and one another at the local level, we hosted several regional events, a conservation easement celebration, two ranch tours, and our Virtual CEO Speaker Series. Thank you to each and every one of you who joined us at an event this year. When we come together, we are making a collective impact on our local communities. 
    • With the release of our monthly podcast and new short film, we are changing the way people think about the role of ranchers and rangelands in their everyday lives. In January, we launched our Tuned in to the Land podcast featuring conversations with ranchers, scientists, conservationists, friends, and donors who demonstrate the importance of preserving California’s working lands. Then in the spring, we released our new short film, From the Ground Up: Healing Our Planet, Healing Ourselves. The video, which showcases the power of rangelands to restore mind, body, soul, and planet, has generated 11 thousand views across social media.

    All that before our 25-year milestone

    Since 1998, you and others in this community of like-minded supporters from all walks of life have come together to conserve California’s working lands and keep ranchers ranching. 2023 marks a major milestone for the Rangeland Trust, and we plan to take a moment to celebrate the gifts we continue to receive because of what has been conserved so far. (Join us A Western Affair 2023 for the big celebration) But as soon as we are done celebrating, we will get right back to work because we know there is too much at stake for us to stand idle.   

    The ranching families who steward our life-giving landscapes are in a seemingly constant struggle, with challenges on multiple fronts that make it tough to continue. When we lose our lands stewards, we also lose our rangelands and the benefits they provide—the fresh food we eat, the very air we breathe, protection against devastating wildfires, resilience for the health of our planet, our connection to the earth and one another, and so much more.

    The Rangeland Trust knows this, and that’s why we are so committed to fighting alongside our ranching partners and this wonderful community of supporters to save the open spaces we love and depend upon. Together, we can bring attention to the good ranchers are doing and the bounty they are responsible for producing on well-managed rangelands. We can help find common ground and bring forth win-win solutions for conservation. And we can secure the resources necessary to protect more working lands. 

    Our future will grow from the foundations we’ve been building over the past 25 years with ranching partners, policy makers, and urban and rural residents—all people passionate about the land and its inhabitants. There is hope for an abundant future through rangeland conservation, and it’s a future worth fighting for!

    25 years in and the Rangeland Trust is just getting started!