The Independent applauds the work of the California Rangeland Trust (CRT) for its recent conservation of 1,200 acres.

CRT worked with families and NextEra, an energy company, to make this a reality. When NextEra built new wind turbines, it agreed to fund four conservation easements on privately owned ranchland in the Altamont Pass, on both sides of the 580-interstate freeway.

The company’s new turbines provided bird-friendly green energy generation. However, due to the construction, the need arose to offset the environmental impacts on the site. As explained by Alyssa Rolan, CRT’s spokesperson, this mitigation will conserve acres of rangeland and protect the natural environment.

Since its inception in 1998, CRT has conserved over 340,000 acres of private ranching land for 75 families. In addition to preserving the 1,200 acres, it is currently working to fund applications from 90 families for 200,000 acres of land they wish to preserve.

With California undergoing rapid development, the importance of this preservation is critical. As Darrel Sweet of Sweet Ranch said, cattle grazing land isn’t just open space with grass for bovine to eat — ranchers spend a great deal of effort maintaining the property’s habitat that’s shared with wildlife.

Conservation easements are created when CRT works with landowners who wish to surrender development rights in exchange for funding. Due to high land taxes, many ranchers have offered their properties for mitigation efforts to create cash flow, while keeping the land in the family. We hope ranchers who might feel a need to sell their land will consider keeping their land and applying for CRT funds instead.