Conservation: A Cause for Celebration

April 30, 2024 by Madison Goss

When the Rangeland Trust is able to successfully conserve a piece of California’s working lands, it is cause for a celebration—another win in the fight to keep ranchers ranching and stave off conversion of these lands in the Golden State!

On Friday, April 19, 2024, a luncheon was held in honor of the completion of the conservation efforts on the Yates Ranch, a 500-acre working cattle ranch owned by the Yates family in Calaveras County. Surrounded by lush green grass, old oak trees, and cattle grazing, guests were treated to a first-hand look at responsible stewardship in action.  

“It is always a great day when we can get people out on the land to see the work that our landowner partners are doing on a daily basis,” Rangeland Trust CEO, Michael Delbar stated. “The Yates family’s decision to conserve their land is an example of ranchers caring for the land today, so that it will be there for all of us in the future.”

Guests enjoyed a delicious lunch from the local barbeque joint, Tin Roof BBQ. Michael kicked off the brief program with remarks about the purpose and history of Rangeland Trust and an overview of the Ranch. Then, Samantha Yates, one of the owners and managers of the Ranch, shared her family’s journey in the ranching business and their decision to conserve the property.

Samantha expressed, “It gives my family peace of mind knowing that no matter how long down the road, there will always be rangeland here in this ever-developing world. It means the world to us knowing our piece of ground will never see cement poured over it.”

The conservation easement was completed with funding from the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP) and the California Strategic Growth Council’s Sustainable Agricultural Lands Conservation Program (SALC) in collaboration with the Department of Conservation (DOC). SALC is part of  California Climate Investments, a statewide initiative that puts billions of Cap-and-Trade dollars to work reducing greenhouse gas emissions, strengthening the economy, and improving public health and the environment – particularly in disadvantaged communities. Representatives from both NRCS and DOC were present at the celebration.

“It is important for people to understand the value of these lands,” stated David Shabazian, Director of the DOC, during his remarks. “Everyone depends on these lands for a myriad of reasons, including food, shelter, fresh water, clean air, energy, and more. The SALC program, along with other conservation programs, are working to ensure that we will always have these working spaces.”

Following the presentations, Michael presented the Yates family with a sign in recognition of their voluntary act to conserve a piece of Calaveras County’s pristine rangeland forever. The sign will stand at the front of the property commemorating the family’s dedication to the land.

Over its 26-year history, the Rangeland Trust has partnered with 91 ranching families across the state to conserve over 395,000 acres of rangeland, making it the largest land trust in California.

In Calaveras County alone, the Rangeland Trust has partnered with eight ranching families, conserving over 8,000 acres of rangeland; that includes the Rangeland Trust’s very 1st easement completed in 1998 on the Touch the Earth Ranch owned by Rep. John Garamendi and his family. There are currently another three projects in the pipeline waiting to be conserved in the county, totaling an additional 4,000 acres of working lands.

This collaborative conservation project demonstrates a successful public-private partnership between a ranching family, state and federal agencies, and a qualified land trust that is helping to protect the public interest through private land conservation. The Rangeland Trust thanks everyone who came out to enjoy the beautiful day and support the Yates family.

Michael explained, “These efforts are important to celebrate. We are proud of the collaboration that came together to protect this ranch and look forward to the continued partnership with the Yates family as they continue to steward their spectacular ranch.”

Event Photo Gallery