The Land Trust of Napa County and its state government partners announce the completion of a conservation easement protecting the 732-acre Webber Ranch, near Lake Berryessa.

“This is an important step in an ongoing effort to ensure the future of ranching, scenic open space and biodiversity near the lake”, said Doug Parker, CEO of the Land Trust. “We are making progress. In the last two years, working with the landowners, the Strategic Growth Council and the Department of Conservation, we’ve been able to protect over 6,700 acres on the east side of Lake Berryessa.”

Using an agreement known as an agricultural easement, the Land Trust and the DOC permanently protect the ranch from future development but allow it to remain privately owned. The ranch includes large open grasslands that transition to oak woodlands and forest as it ascends toward the ridge on the Napa-Yolo county line, forming the scenic backdrop of the lake.

Funding for this easement transaction came from the Sustainable Agricultural Lands Conservation (SALC) Program – a component of the Strategic Growth Council’s (SGC) Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities (AHSC) Program. The Department of Conservation administers the SALC Program on behalf of SGC. The program aims to protect Ag lands from development, simultaneously supporting California’s food security and reducing future emissions of greenhouse gases. This program is part of the California Climate Investments, which use proceeds from the State’s Cap and Trade auctions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while advancing a variety of additional environmental, economic and health benefits.

“The new multi-year greenhouse gas funding enables us to conserve large swaths of important agricultural lands such as the Webber Ranch and others in East Lake Berryessa,” said Department of Conservation Director David Bunn.

Besides protecting working ranches, the easement also protects significant natural habitats, including oak savanna, annual grasslands, oak woodlands and mixed Manzanita chaparral. The ranch is also in a strategic location for conservation, making the connection between protected land around the lake and other protected land within the Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument east of the lake, along the Napa-Yolo county line.

“I want to thank the owner, Pete Craig, for generously donating significant value in this easement”, said Parker. “It’s great to work with someone as committed to sustainable ranching as Pete. This is the third conservation easement we’ve done together and we very much appreciate his commitment to conservation and to ranching.”

The easement will help meet California’s climate goals in several ways. By keeping the land in ranching, the property will not be generating the ongoing emissions that would result from the development of housing. In addition, the easement will also ensure ongoing sequestration of carbon. Because significant portions of the property are forested, the easement will ensure that these forests are protected, growing trees that will continue to pull carbon from the atmosphere. Furthermore, the project will help protect the watershed of Lake Berryessa, a key water source for Solano County, and beautiful scenic landscapes for all the residents and visitors to Lake Berryessa each year.