(VISALIA, CA) - A second year of pandemic along with economic and climate uncertainties proved no deterrent for SRT in gaining newly protected lands in 2021.
SRT now protects in excess of 44,000 acres through nine counties, an ever-widening sphere of operation extending from Los Angeles County in the south, to Merced County in the north. East to west, the Mojave Desert and San Luis Obispo County are the boundaries.
Closest to home in Tulare County, SRT acquired two agricultural conservation easements in 2021. Funded through the Department of Conservation Agricultural Land Mitigation Grant Program, the new acquisitions conserve 235 acres of prime farmland. SRT worked with Landowners James Moore in northern Tulare County, and Whitten Farms, LLC and Woodville Farms, LLC, near Woodville. "Protecting this farmland in perpetuity helps to assure a sustainable food source for future generations," said SRT Director of Land Acquisitions Courtney Barnes.
Additionally, SRT acquired two conservation easements in 2021 via its ongoing collaboration with Westervelt Ecological Services. The area conserved is located in Kern County and will insure the protection of 675 acres of high-quality natural, established, restored and/or enhanced habitat for blunt-nosed leopard lizard (Gambelia si/a), Tipton kangaroo rat (Dipodomys nitratoides nitratoides), and San Joaquin kit fox (Vulpes macrotis mutica). Portions of the land contain valley sink/saltbrush scrub and preserved waters of the United States including alkali pool, playa pool, alkali swale, and ditch habitats.
SRT closes out 2021 holding 85 ag conservation and other easements around the region.
With funding from the Resource Legacy Fund (RLF) Grant, SRT acquired eight parcels of land totaling 75 acres within the Carrizo Plain National Monument. These lands will become a part of the CPNM. CPNM is home to diverse communities of wildlife and plant species including several listed as threatened or endangered and is an area culturally important to Native Americans.
To date SRT has worked to conserve more than 44,000 acres.
"What makes my job at SRT so rewarding is helping Farmers protect our valuable agricultural lands, while giving them the financial tools needed to sustain their operations for future generations," Barnes said. With gains accruing despite the ongoing covid-related hardship in Central California, SRT is grateful for Barnes continuing success and the farmers and ranchers who see the value of protecting their ag land for the future.