100-year-old Family Cattle Ranch Forever Protected in San Benito County

Multi-generational ranching family partners with California Rangeland Trust to protect 4,500-acre property



The California Rangeland Trust is pleased to announce the conservation of the Sans Topo Ranch in San Benito County, Calif. The 4,500-acre conservation easement was completed with funding from the Wildlife Conservation Board and United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), with support from USFWS Ventura Fish & Wildlife Office (VFWO), California Department of Fish & Wildlife (CDFW), and San Benito Working Landscapes Group. 

Located approximately 35 miles south of the city Hollister and two miles west of State Route 25, the ranch lies just outside Pinnacles National Park. The property is comprised of three different habitat types: annual grasslands, coastal shrubs, and blue oak woodlands. The annual grasslands provide good forage and habitat for the livestock and wildlife that inhabit the land.

The diverse plant population on the Ranch provides significant habitat for the many species of wildlife found on the property. The special status species that have been documented on the property include, California condor, American badger, California tiger salamander, mountain lion, vernal pool fairy shrimp, and western spadefoot toad.

The Sans family has owned and managed the land since 1926 – tying five generations to the property. Over the years, the family has seen a lot of changes to the surrounding area. The family chose to conserve the property to ensure that the land that their family has managed for nearly 100 years will never be lost to development.

Wendy Sans, one of the Ranch owners, stated, “It is very exciting knowing that the Sans Topo Ranch will be protected forever. It will remain a working ranch forever; this land is our family’s legacy.” 

The family runs a stocker cattle operation on the Ranch. They rotationally graze the property to ensure the health of the land, and its diverse habitat, remains viable into the future. Under the conservation easement, the family will continue to own manage the land as they always have while ensuring the property will never be subdivided or developed.  

“We are in the business of protecting and maintaining the health of the Golden State’s rangelands for the benefit of all Californians,” Michael Delbar, CEO of the Rangeland Trust explained. “It is because of the top-notch stewardship of the ranching community that Californians have access to local food, clean air, fresh water, and beautiful views. We are proud to partner with dedicated ranching families, like the Sans, that not only care for their livestock, but also the land and wildlife alike.”

Thanks to the partnership between the Sans family and the Rangeland Trust, the land and its bounty will benefit people, livestock, and wildlife for generations to come.

Founded in 1998 by a group of ranchers determined to safeguard rangeland agriculture and the natural ecosystems they steward; California Rangeland Trust is the only rancher-led land trust in California. Over the last 25 years, the organization has permanently protected more than 377,000 acres of open rangeland to provide clean air and water, carbon sequestration, vibrant habitat for wildlife and healthy foods that all Californian’s rely upon. California Rangeland Trust is a 501 (c)(3) organization headquartered in Sacramento, Calif., dedicated to serving the land, people and wildlife by conserving California’s working rangelands.