Placer Land Trust is pleased to announce that an additional 36 acres of one of Placer County’s oldest cattle ranches has been permanently protected.
Earlier this month PLT worked with the Oest family of Auburn to voluntarily place an agricultural conservation easement on the northernmost portion of Oest Ranch, near Lone Star Road and Highway 49, permanently prohibiting subdivision, development, and harmful land uses.
“Through local partnerships like between Placer Land Trust and the Oest family, voluntary land conservation is becoming a new American tradition,” said PLT Executive Director Jeff Darlington. “Working with land trusts is a way for our nation’s farms and ranches to stay productive, and it keeps local communities, environments and economies healthy and sustainable.”
The 947-acre Oest Ranch spans two watersheds and two highways and has been in continuous agricultural production by the family since their pioneer ancestors came to Placer County in the 1850s for the Gold Rush. Today Oest Ranch is primarily a cattle ranch, but also produces PlacerGROWN honey through partnership with Miller Honey Farms. This 36-acre project was the third phase of a multi-phase project to ultimately protect the entire ranch; so far 545 acres have been protected since the partnership between the Oests and the land trust began in 2007.
“The Oest Ranch and the Oest family embody those things in Placer County’s agricultural history that are important to honor and protect,” said Jennifer Montgomery, Placer County’s 5th District Supervisor. “On behalf of Placer County, I thank the Oests for their continued commitment to open space.”
The agricultural conservation easement is a voluntary legal agreement attached to the deed of the property that permanently ensures the property will remain open space viable for agricultural production, while keeping the land privately held and managed by the Oest family.
“This ranch was built by my great-great-grandfather and continued by a lot of hard work down through the generations,” said Loren Oest, the fifth generation of his family to work this land, currently serving on the Board of the Placer County Farm Bureau and the Tahoe Cattlemen’s Association. “We love the land, and we worked with Placer Land Trust because we want to see our family’s ranching legacy continue for future generations.”
The protection of this property provides multiple public benefits in addition to protecting our local agricultural land base and economy. Livestock grazing keeps invasive species down which benefits native species, and grazing reduces fuel loads that can lead to wildfire. Conservation of rangelands benefits soil quality, water quality, and carbon sequestration. The oak woodlands on the property also contain critical habitat for a wide diversity of foothill plant and animal life, and the property provides a scenic open space buffer for the City of Auburn along Highway 49.
Funding for the agricultural conservation easement acquisition and long-term stewardship was provided to Placer Land Trust by its members as well as the State Wildlife Conservation Board, Placer County, and Emigrant Trails Greenway Trust. The Oest family also contributed financially to the project.