Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Historic Riverfront Ranch

Very nice story about a beautiful Sacramento Riverfront Ranch protected.

Fields of green will stay that way as a ranch's protection is completed
By Christine Vovakes - Bee CorrespondentPublished 12:00 am PST Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Jim Saake acquires land, not for speculation, but for the future. And when the future of that land promises to look very much like its past, that vision pleases him immensely.

Saake is very pleased with the future of the recently obtained Llano Seco Ranch west of Chico.

"I like to think this is what the valley looked like before everyone leveled it out," Saake said as he took a visitor on a tour of the undulating swales, natural reservoirs and acres of riparian vegetation and oak woodland that surround Llano Seco's working ranch.

"It will stay that landscape forever," Saake said. "And that's a big deal."

Saake can make that statement because the last open section of the vast property -- 4,235 acres -- was put in a conservation easement earlier this year after he completed negotiations with the ranch owners as president of the board of directors of Chico-based Northern California Regional Land Trust.

The acquisition will keep developers from encroaching on one of the state's only remaining intact Mexican land grants. The principal landowner was former San Francisco Chronicle publisher Richard Thieriot.

"The essence of a conservation easement is that owners are giving over their development rights," Saake said. "The owner gets his economic benefit for what he's giving up, and we get his land as it is."

The easement was funded with $6.5 million from state coffers through the CALFED Ecosystem Restoration Program. The California Oak Foundation and Saake's organization applied for the grant; the land trust will hold the easement.

Most of the remaining 18,434 acres of the ranch are shielded from development through easements held by state and federal wildlife agencies and the nonprofit Nature Conservancy.