Here is our fall issue of the Bodega Land Trust Journal. We hope you enjoy it, and please feel free to pass it around. On the last page is an announcement of our 25th Anniversary Dinner/Auction, with local chefs Jody Ruben and Alyssum Revallo. We hope you will be able to attend! CLICK HERE to download.
The Bodega Land Trust Staff
The basic mission of Bodega Land Trust, like all land trusts, is to protect and improve our environment. Therefore we are deeply concerned with climate change and the threat it poses to the landscapes for which we care. Decades from now, we cannot be sure that the redwoods will still stand in the Salmon Creek watershed; we cannot be sure that our beaches will not be submerged.
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Dear Friends of BLT,
Just inland from the beautiful Pacific coast in western Sonoma County is an agricultural and environmental jewel with its own unique watershed. The significance of conserving this working ranchland and its native grasses, riparian habitat, and spring-fed creeks cannot be overstated. Threatened steelhead and freshwater shrimp can still be found in the creeks; endangered Coho salmon are being restored to waterways where they have not been seen for a decade. The coastal prairie and grasslands are temporary home to migratory birds and water fowl, particularly with the proximity to critical nesting grounds near Bodega Bay.
The rare coastal prairie meets the redwood mist forest in southwest Sonoma County. This unique working ranch located in western Sonoma County, California, exemplifies this important ecosystem and is in the process of becoming protected by Bodega Land Trust through an agricultural conservation easement. An agricultural conservation easement is a tool that provides for the permanent protection of private lands by restricting their use to agricultural pursuits and providing for ongoing conservation management. The property includes the transition zone between coastal prairie and redwood forest and supports organic agriculture, incredible biodiversity, and habitat for several endangered and threatened species. Protection will include the aquifers and surface water that are a primary source for domestic water, livestock, and fisheries.
Sheep graze on native pastures ringed by old growth redwood, tanoak, and coastal live oak forests and miles of riparian corridor. The coastal prairie forms a corridor that joins the open pasturelands that surround the Estero Americano to the narrow seaside prairie north of Jenner. Just inland, the mist forest interlaces with the prairie in a series of biologically vital edges. The sweep of these lands creates the bucolic backdrop of rolling hills and lush grasslands cherished by residents and visitors alike traversing their scenic roads and coastal trails.
The need. Bodega Land Trust is currently proceeding with a conservation easement to protect nearly one and a half square miles of this critical ranch land, securing in perpetuity the ridge tops, streams, and redwood forests. Bodega Land Trust will monitor the easement, and work with lessees to establish and implement a management plan. Protection of this ranch will be an enormous step to joining nearby protected lands on the Estero Americano with the park lands along the Russian River and the coast, a bounty for generations to come.
How you can help. Your donation to Bodega Land Trust will help conserve this incredible piece of western Sonoma County forever. Please give us a call at 1(707)874-9001 to discuss the various ways you can be part of making this historic easement a reality.
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BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Don Sherer, President
Mary Biggs, Vice President/Secretary
Sharon Welling Harston
ADVISORY COUNCIL MEMBERS
Please read about our 15-year history of accomplishments in protecting diverse lands in our community, educating the public on sustainable land use, and providing landowners and the community with opportunities to engage their love of the land.
Bodega Land Trust
Table Of Contents
- Conservation Objectives
- Conservation Easements
- Financial Support
- How You Can Help
The Bodega Land Trust was formed in 1992 and received 501(c)3 tax-exempt status in 1997. Initially formed by local sheep ranchers to encourage the preservation of agricultural open space, the organization has evolved into a vital grassroots organization that encourages and supports community involvement in land stewardship.
Local participants manage easements, conduct educational programs and restoration activities, and support community efforts. Protected land includes approximately two miles of riparian corridor, old growth redwood forests and coastal prairie. Most easements are located in the Salmon Creek Watershed, protecting important habitat for salmonids and other threatened and endangered species, and open space for visitors to the Sonoma Coast.
The Bodega Land Trust is a founding member of the California Council of Land Trusts, and member of the Land Trust Alliance and the Sonoma County Farm Bureau.
Bodega Land Trust is dedicated to preserving and restoring land and its communities. We promote the appreciation of human interaction with plant, animal, and other species by encouraging wise and caring land use practices.
We engage our community and draw from it in many of our activities. Our primary focus is to maintain the agricultural and rural scenic character of western Sonoma County. Bodega Land Trust helps to sustain our local resources through conservation and agricultural easements, restoration activities, education and community support.
Western Sonoma County is resplendent with the scenic beauty of rolling pastoral landscapes and sweeping ocean panoramas. Coastal prairie, forested hills and clear running creeks abound in this rural agricultural area. Our coastal watersheds provide important habitat for threatened and endangered
species and an incredible biodiversity of plants and animals. We work to ensure that future generations can enjoy these treasures.
Riparian and Watershed Values. Coastal watersheds in western Sonoma County support a variety of endangered and threatened species such as steelhead trout, California freshwater shrimp and red-legged frogs, and spotted owls. Known causes for the threatened demise of these and historically known populations of Coho salmon include habitat degradation and decreasing summer time flow in the creeks and tributaries. The Bodega Land Trust seeks to restore ecosystem balance by targeting riparian corridors and aquifer recharge areas for protection. We work with local watershed councils and agencies to develop and implement watershed plans that protect and restore riparian habitat, monitor and improve water quality, and restore or protect instream flow. Appropriate forest and grasslands management is encouraged.
Agriculture is an integral part of the western Sonoma County landscape and economy. Generations of ranchers and growers have raised sheep, dairy and beef cattle, goats, grapes and other crops. Terrain, infrastructure and soil are well suited for agriculture. Corporate farming, estate taxes, regulations and development pressure make it difficult for agricultural families to stay in business or to maintain agricultural uses of land when landowners pass away. At the same time, Sonoma County residents are placing increasing value on sustainable agriculture and eating locally grown food. Bodega Land Trust helps sustain the local agricultural community by encouraging agricultural easements. We also provide landowners with assistance and referrals to expert resources regarding best management practices and environmental restoration.
Coastal Prairie and Forests. The coastal prairie and coastal mist forests found in western Sonoma County constitute rare, threatened and important ecosystems in California. Both support great biodiversity. Much of the coastal prairie is currently utilized for agriculture. Private, non-industrial landowners own over 65% of the forestland. A number of factors including population growth, regulations and changes in the economy are creating pressure to convert forests and prairie to other uses. Ensuring the continuity of these forests and prairies will allow for their continued good health and habitat value. Bodega Land Trust works with various groups to identify large and small properties for protection that link habitat, pastures, forests, and nearby protected land. Appropriate grazing protective of the coastal prairie ecosystem is supported via agricultural easements
View Sheds. The country roads of western Sonoma County provide some of the most delightful scenery in California. Tourists and residents alike cherish the open pastoral panoramas, ocean views, rolling hills, and driving roads through redwood and coastal oak forests. Over two million visitors travel up the Sonoma Coast each year. Lands targeted for attention include those adjacent to or visible from Highway 12 between Sebastopol and the Coast Road, Highway 1, Coleman Valley Road, Bay Hill Road, Salmon Creek Road, Joy Road and Bohemian Highway. BLT volunteers are actively photo-documenting the spectacular scenery.
A conservation easement is a means to permanently protect land with habitat, agricultural, scenic or historic values. Land protected under conservation or agricultural easements remains in private ownership. Specific conservation goals and land uses are determined with the landowner. Protections expressed in the easement are permanent and remain in force when the land changes hands. Landowners can make an important difference in the landscape of the future by deciding to protect their land today.
A conservation easement is a legal agreement between a landowner and a Land Trust. Land Trusts are qualified nonprofit organizations set up specifically to conserve land and hold conservation easements. The Land Trust must ensure that the terms of the easement are upheld. This is usually done via annual monitoring visits to each easement by trained volunteer monitors. Landowners typically manage and maintain the property, though the Land Trust can assist with projects or information that benefit or improve its conservation values.
A variety of financial options and tax incentives can help landowners achieve their conservation goals. In addition to income and, in many cases, property
tax benefits, conservation easements can significantly lower estate taxes sometimes allowing heirs to keep the land rather than having to sell it. Five percent of the value of the easement donation is normally required by Bodega Land Trust in order to cover the costs of on-going stewardship and defense of the easement. This cost is generally much less than the tax benefits to the donor, who receives a tax deduction equal to the appraised value of the easement.
Easements can be donated or sold depending on the financial needs of the landowner. Other conservation options include donating all or part of the land
to a Land Trust, selling the land at a bargain price, or placing a conservation easement on the land prior to sale. Each of these options can provide financial advantages
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