A Round of Applause for 2023

December 28, 2023 by Michael Delbar

After 25 years of conserving rangeland, this year stands out for so many reasons. With the support of our ranching partners, donors, and friends, we’ve hit a lot of milestones. But don’t just take our word for it… Look at all you’ve helped us accomplish in 2023! 

    2023 Wins

    • This year, we conserved 16,929 acres of rangeland on 9 ranches across California! That means that over our organization’s 25-year history, we’ve help 89 ranching families permanently protected an impressive 389,423 acres of working land. This collective achievement was made possible because of generous community support, federal and state agency grants, and partnerships with businesses seeking to offset development. 
    • The Rangeland Trust has taken an active role in advocating for needed changes to the Farm Bill. Along with our colleagues through the Partnership of Rangeland Trusts, we have created a coalition and have made multiple trips to Washington D.C. throughout the last 18 months to provide key information and real-life experiences to federal legislators with the goal of easing program administration and maintaining funding for working lands conservation. While the Farm Bill has now been extended to September 2024, we feel optimistic that we’ve gained positive traction with key legislators in both the House and the Senate. We look forward to continuing our advocacy efforts next year.
    • Thanks to the support of three private funders, we furthered our commitment to serve as a trusted resource to our ranching partners with the addition of our new programs manager (Meet Robin Hanson). The creation of this role will allow us to better connect the ranching community to the best available science and tools to support enhanced stewardship practices and help ranchers meet their additive conservation goals, beyond conservation easements alone. Safeguarding the land is only the first part of our commitment to fulfilling our mission. Making sure the land has a healthy future is just as vital. 
    • We commemorated 25 years of keeping ranchers ranching and conserving the Golden State’s working lands at A Western Affair 2023. In May, nearly 400 guests gathered under the oak trees at the beautiful Yolo Land and Cattle Co. And together, we spent the night honoring the achievements of the past, celebrating the bounty of agricultural goods and services provided by rangeland, enjoying good company and pasture-to-plate flavors, and looking ahead to all that is possible for the future. Thanks to the generosity of those who both attended and supported the event from afar, we raised more than $360,000 to further rangeland conservation efforts in California, making it one of the most successful events to date in the Rangeland Trust’s 25-year history.
    • Our herd moo-vedLike our conservation portfolio, the Rangeland Trust staff has also grown to meet the ever-increasing needs of our ranching partners. So, earlier this spring we moved out of our downtown office location in Sacramento and into a bigger space in the North Natomas area. A few months later, we were thrilled to welcome friends of the organization to an open house reception at our new office which doubled as a “birthday” celebration for our organization’s 25th year. 
    • Embarking upon one of our most ambitious outreach projects to date, we created a feature-length documentary to show the critical role ranchers play in stewarding our working landscape. Our award-winning film, You Just Can’t See Them From the Road, has made its way to nearly a dozen film festivals across the western United States this fall and will be included in several more this coming spring. While we are prohibited from releasing the film publicly until it wraps up its festival run, we are planning to hold several movie screenings throughout the state next year. Stay tuned for more information on these upcoming events. 
    • We launched the new Visionaries’ Circle for the donors who have notified us of their decision to include the Rangeland Trust in their estate plans. Over the years, several of our supporters have made the decision to include the Rangeland Trust as a beneficiary in their wills, trusts, or of their retirement accounts. As this group has grown, we wanted to honor their visionary commitment and take the opportunity to celebrate their giving today. Our visionaries are a group of forward-thinking people who have used their estate plan to invest in the iconic vistas, thriving wildlife, family stewardship, Western heritage, and healthy local foods from California’s working rangelands. 
    • We expressed our gratitude to the Silver Spurs giving circle by convening a virtual donor appreciation week in the Fall. This five-day celebration was filled with an array of activities—everything from a special message of thanks fromYellowstone star, Jefferson White, to a “Wine and Whiskey” Zoom event with Rangeland Trust CEO, Michael Delbar. Bringing together donors online in celebration of the conservation efforts they’ve helped make possible through their support of the Rangeland Trust was certainly a highlight of the year. We look forward to more Silver Spurs activities in 2024. 
    • We welcomed a new 4-wheeled team member with the addition of Dusty Roades, the California Rangeland Trust pickup truck. Generously provided by Rio Vista Chevrolet in Buellton, California, Dusty has spent the last six months traveling to ranches all over California; meeting with landowners; and attending monitoring visits, events, workshops, and other activities on behalf of the Rangeland Trust. Along the way Dusty has met some incredible people; established friendships with several cute cows, horses, dogs, and other farm animals; and experienced some of the most magnificent views the Golden State has to offer. Sound like fun, right? The best part is that you can get a glimpse of Dusty’s past travels and tag along on future adventures by following @findingdustyroades on Instagram and Facebook.  

    Looking ahead

    As we end this year on a high note, recognizing the positive impact of our work on the future of the Golden State, we are excited to carry this momentum forward to make more conservation possible for more ranching families in 2024 and beyond. Thank you for being part of the Rangeland Trust’s story and helping us secure a bright and sustainable future by keeping ranchers ranching.