Sequoia Riverlands Trust and The Nature Conservancy Preserve 1,837-Acre Cattle Ranch In Tulare County

The Nature Conservancy
Wednesday, 2 June 2004

Conservation Partners To Blend Educational Programs, Rare Habitat and Grazing On Important Watershed

The Nature Conservancy and Sequoia Riverlands Trust today announced the permanent protection of the 1,837-acre Homer Ranch, a working cattle ranch east of Visalia, near Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. The scenic property lies within a watershed important to both rare habitat and agriculture, and serves as a critical wildlife corridor. The ranch will become a working preserve, with grazing to continue under the terms of a conservation plan developed by the two organizations, and guided tours to be available through Sequoia Riverlands Trust's broader educational program.

"The preservation of Homer Ranch is a wonderful example of conservation and community working together," said Graham Chisholm, executive director for The Nature Conservancy's California program. "The Conservancy has worked with ranchers all over California to develop conservation-compatible grazing and land use plans, and we are thrilled to apply that experience to protecting the rare and fragile beauty of the Sequoia Foothills."

"This is a unique opportunity for us to maintain a working cattle ranch and provide people with a place to learn about the importance of both agriculture and rare habitat conservation," said Sopac McCarthy Mulholland, executive director of Sequoia Riverlands Trust. "Working closely with The Nature Conservancy, we look forward to building a conservation plan for the property that supports vital habitat and our way of life."

Homer Ranch lies within the southern portion of the Dry Creek watershed, a tributary of the Kaweah River in the Sierra Nevada foothills. The property serves as a wildlife corridor for wide-ranging animals like mule deer and mountain lion that roam between Dry Creek and 5,000 acres of conserved public and private lands northeast of the ranch. Dry Creek provides important habitat for resident and migratory birds, including great blue herons and bald eagles, as well as rare species such as the western pond turtle. Homer Ranch also contains a significant portion of one of the last remaining sycamore alluvial woodlands in the world, and supports vast stands of threatened blue oak woodlands.

"My wife, Stephanie, and I decided to approach Sequoia Riverlands Trust about buying our ranch after a visit to their Kaweah Oaks Preserve," said Richard Homer, whose great-great-grandparents homesteaded the area in the late 1800's. "We've always thought our property would be the perfect place for people to enjoy the beauty of this area and learn about a working cattle ranch. We're proud to help future generations experience an important part of California's history."

The Homer Ranch Preserve is owned and will be managed by Sequoia Riverlands Trust. The Nature Conservancy is working with staff from Sequoia Riverlands Trust to develop a conservation plan for the property that will include managed cattle grazing and research on the sycamore woodlands. Knowledge gathered by the two organizations will be applied to restoring nearby landscapes. Upon completion of the existing grazing lease, conservation-compatible grazing practices will begin this winter in cooperation with a local lessee. The Conservancy also worked closely with Sequoia Riverlands Trust to obtain funding for the purchase of the property. Funding for the $1.5 million dollar preserve came from the California Resources Agency, as well as the Packard Foundation through the Sierra Business Council. Additional funding was also provided by the Barakat Foundation.

About the Partnership

The Sequoia Foothills, a term coined by The Nature Conservancy, represents over one million acres of natural beauty in the foothills below Sequoia National Park in Tulare County. Featuring some of the most biologically significant habitat in the Sierra Nevada, this spectacular terrain also supports one of the largest agricultural producing counties in the United States. Sequoia Riverlands Trust, located in Visalia, is a community-based, non-profit land trust committed to conserving the natural splendor of the Sequoia Foothills, as well as the quality of life cherished by residents. To help realize its mission, Sequoia Riverlands Trust partnered with The Nature Conservancy in December 2000. With nearly 50 years of experience safeguarding land and water in California, the Conservancy acts as a science and conservation planning consultant to Sequoia Riverlands Trust, and provides on-the-ground support for restoration and land acquisition. Together the two organizations are building a plan for long-term stewardship of the region and its natural resources to keep the Sequoia Foothills vibrant and beautiful.

For more information, or to contact The Nature Conservancy, see their website at:

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