Getting our Boots on the Ground at Lone Oak Springs Ranch

March 24, 2024 by Madison Goss

To demonstrate our boots on the ground conservation efforts, the Rangeland Trust and local prospective ranching partner, Rick Taggard, welcomed 60 guests on February 10th to the Lone Oak Springs Ranch in Santa Maria, Calif. The event followed our annual “in-town” event, Reunir, which took place on February 8th at The Maker’s Son in Los Alamos.

The Lone Oak Springs Ranch is currently in pursuit of conservation through the Rangeland Trust. The roughly 1,200-acre property has been run by Rick and his family for the last 10 years. Together, they run a commercial cattle operation, as well as breed performance horses for competitive reining. Aside from its agricultural productivity, the ranch is home to a variety of wildlife including deer, mountain lions, and a variety of avian species. Its unique topography of coastal oak woodlands and coastal shrubs also provide crucial habitat for a variety of special status plant and animal species.

After some much-needed rainfall from winter storms earlier in the week, the clouds parted and the sun shone brightly as guests made their way onto the ranch. Upon arrival, Michael Delbar, CEO of the Rangeland Trust, greeted guests and spoke about the Rangeland Trust’s conservation efforts in the local region – including over 138,000 acres across 13 conserved ranches in the Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo Counties. He also spoke about the goals for the organization as we look ahead to the next 25 years.

Following Michael’s presentation, Rick welcomed guests and spoke about the history of the property and his desire to conserve it. Though Rick has only been on the Ranch for 10 years, he has been involved in ranching his whole life, hailing from a fifth-generation operation in Porterville, CA. He has seen first-hand how development and generational transfers can impact the land, which is part of what fuels his motivation to see his Ranch protected in perpetuity. He explained, “Ranchland is going away and so is this lifestyle; we love it, and we want to do what we can to protect it.”

After learning about the ranch and enjoying a delicious Santa Maria-style barbecue from Testa Catering, guests experienced the beauty of the land for themselves during a guided side-by-side tour of the ranch. Rick, along with his son and other local ranching friends, transported folks to the peak of the ranch which boasts a scenic overlook – spanning across hundreds of acres of rangeland, vineyards, and strawberry fields, and stretching from the City of Santa Maria clear over to the Pacific Ocean. While at the hilltop, guests were able to socialize, drink, and learn more about the local region and the need to preserve this precious landscape. Afterwards, guests headed back down the hill and were bid farewell as the day came to a close.

The entire Rangeland Trust Team is grateful to everyone that came out and experienced a day on the land, seeing responsible ranching in action! A special thank you to Rick and the whole Taggard family for opening their gates to guests and sharing their magnificent ranch with us all. We look forward to getting more people out on the land in other parts of the state soon!

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