The Land Trust of Napa County is pleased to announce the completion of a conservation easement protecting 1,416 acres of Running Deer Ranch on the east side of Lake Berryessa. This is the seventh conservation easement completed by the Land Trust in the last seven years in this area. Working together with several landowners, the Land Trust has now protected over 14,200 contiguous acres here, almost all the land along the lake’s 12-mile-long eastern shore.

The easement eliminates the potential for residential and commercial development across the entire property, as well as cultivated agriculture, but ensures that the land can continue to be a working cattle ranch. The easement protects multiple intact habitat communities including oak savanna, extensive meadows, oak woodlands and mixed manzanita/chamise chaparral, as well as a number of seasonal streams. Because the property connects directly with other protected land, the easement ensures ongoing corridors for wildlife.

“I want to thank the landowners, Anna Ahmann Reed, Christina Ahmann Roberts and Erica Ahmann Smithies, for their far-sighted commitment to protecting this beautiful property,” said Doug Parker, CEO of the Land Trust. “The land has been in their family for a long time and I know that protecting it into the future was very important to them.”

“Our family has been raising cattle and farming in the Napa Valley for over 50 years,” said Erica Ahmann Smithies. “This conservation easement not only continues what our parents started through an earlier easement, but continues the family tradition of progressive water conservation, sustainable ranching practices and sheer perseverance that will allow this land to remain in agriculture for the generations to come.”

“In order to continue ranching and preserve the land for future generations to come,” said Anna Ahmann Reed, “you need to work the land and get your family involved in the process. This is what my parents did with us and now our children are learning cattle ranching as well. The conservation easement will help ensure the use of the property will continue in agriculture in perpetuity.”

The project was completed with partial funding from the Natural Resources Conservation Service’s (NRCS) Agricultural Conservation Easement Program. “I want to thank NRCS for providing funding for this important conservation project,” said Parker. “It would not have happened without their support.”

“This is a very strategic property to protect,” said Parker. “Over the last few years, we’ve protected over 14,000 acres here, including this ranch and others to the south. Those easements abut another 16,000 acres, chiefly federal land in the Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument, creating a contiguous area of over 30,000 protected acres. Running Deer Ranch provides the direct connection between that 30,000 acres to the south and the 21,000-acre Knoxville Wildlife Area that abuts the ranch on the north. Connecting these large conservation lands together will preserve wildlife corridors and oak woodland systems across a large-scale landscape of over 50,000 protected acres.”

Congressman Mike Thompson, who helped create the National Monument, supported this easement project and said, “Congratulations to the Napa Land Trust for permanently protecting this beautiful and important land for future generations. We are fortunate to have the Land Trust and will benefit greatly from their work.”

“This is the fifth-largest conservation easement we’ve completed in our 46-year history,” said Parker. “In total, the Land Trust of Napa County has now protected over 89,000 acres.”

Looking across Lake Berryessa to the oak woodlands rising above the eastern shore. All the land along this 12-mile shoreline has now been permanently protected by Land Trust. Photo courtesy of Land Trust of Napa County.


Map identifying the 14,200 acres protected by the Land Trust’s seven conservation easements on the eastern side of Lake Berryessa. Map courtesy of Land Trust of Napa County.