Sustainable Agricultural Lands Conservation Program: East Lake Berryessa Conservation Easements

Lake Berryessa Landscape

Lake Berryessa Landscape

The Sustainable Agricultural Lands Conservation Program (SALC) has awarded three consecutive years of funding to the Land Trust of Napa County to protect nearly 13,000 contiguous acres of grazing lands and oak woodlands along the eastern edge of Lake Berryessa in Napa County. The block of six conservation easements provides connectivity between Lake Berryessa, Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands to the east, and the 21,500-acre Knoxville Wildlife Area, which in turn connects to federal lands that extend to the Oregon border. Agricultural conservation easements protect important agricultural lands from conversion to urban or rural development to promote smart growth within existing jurisdictions and support a healthy agricultural economy.

“These projects are having a large-scale impact,” said Doug Parker, CEO of the Land Trust of Napa County. “6,700 contiguous acres are protected already through SALC easements and nearly that much again are scheduled for 2019. And because the easements will protect hundreds of thousands of trees, these projects will lead to significant ongoing carbon sequestration, while also avoiding the emissions that would have resulted from development. These projects would not have happened without the SALC Program.”

The ranches’ large, open grasslands along Lake Berryessa transition to oak woodlands and forested land as they ascend to the ridge on the Napa-Yolo county line. In addition to conserving the ranching history and agricultural opportunities provided by each property, these projects will:

  • Ensure that wildlife corridors across these habitats remain intact;

  • Protect extensive oak woodlands, a habitat endemic to California and a priority for conservation statewide; and,

  • Protect watersheds that contribute to Lake Berryessa, a key source of water for Solano County in perpetuity.

“With continued pressure from urban sprawl, large tracts of land like this are constantly under threat of being taken out of grassland production,” said Pete Craig, landowner and ranch manager of the Berryessa Ranch properties. “This reality not only eliminates the ranching way of life, but takes away the ability of Mother Nature to work in combination with cattle ranchers to produce natural, low cost protein…..beef, and at the same time, help fight global warming, through enhanced carbon sequestering! Having this land protected and dedicated to ranching will help us achieve our dream of a sustainable ranching operation next to beautiful Lake Berryessa. And it will allow my son, Will, the opportunity to follow in my footsteps, if he has it in him!”