This Madera County cattle ranch will never be a residential area – GV Wire
Threatened by potential for development or conversion into orchards, the 3,602-acre McKinney Ranch will forever remain a green space along Highway 145 in Madera County.
“It is a unique rural landscape with a rich agricultural heritage as well as abundant ecological benefits such as spring marshes, miles of meandering streams, and hundreds of common and endangered plant and wildlife species.” – State ecologist Carlos Suarez
The Sierra Foothill Conservancy acquired a voluntary conservation easement for the picturesque working cattle ranch within seven miles of downtown Madera.
“We celebrate all of our conservation easements, along with the partners and dedicated landowners who make them possible,” conservationist Carlos Suarez said in a press release on Tuesday. “But this easement on the McKinney family’s cow-calf farm is really special.
“It is a unique rural landscape with a rich agricultural heritage as well as abundant ecological benefits such as spring marshes, miles of meandering streams, and hundreds of common and endangered plant and wildlife species.”
The Sierra Foothill Conservancy has partnered with the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, the California Department of Conservation, and the Bureau of Reclamation to fund the easement acquisition.
The ranch is owned by Scott and Cherisse McKinney.
Sierra Foothill Conservancy celebrates its 25th anniversary
“We are proud to welcome the McKinneys into our family of conservation easement owners and eternally grateful for their decision to keep this ranch in operation. … ”Said Lauren Miller, Director of Conservation at SFC.
Miller noted that SFC, which celebrates its 25th anniversary this month, now has more than 50,000 acres of conserved land. In its 28th year, USDA’s conservation efforts in California total 211,856 acres. And, nationally, there are 5 million acres in conservation programs.
Federal biologist Jesse Bahm described the biodiversity at McKinney Ranch as “simply breathtaking.”
He said a partial list of wildlife found there includes the tricolor blackbird, western burrowing owl, California tiger salamander, western toad, spring pond and fairy shrimp. of the mid-valley, the American badger, the Swainson’s falcon and the bald and king eagle foraging for food.
Bahm added that unique plants are found on the ranch, which is part of the federally designated Madera Vernal Pool Salvage Area – 20,000 contiguous acres of vernal pool habitat.
Conservation easements like McKinney Ranch help protect America’s food supply and fight climate change by preventing land conversion and increasing carbon storage through well-managed grazing, Suarez said.
What is a conservation easement?
The SFC describes a conservation easement as “an agreement that allows a landowner to limit the type or amount of development on their property while retaining private ownership of the land.”
The conservation adds, “By granting a conservation easement, a landowner can ensure that the property will be retained permanently, regardless of who owns the land in the future.”
Additional information on conservation easements is available on this link.