[IMPORTANT ED. NOTE: Though the owners of this ranch recently sold a conservation easement that protects the land from subdivision — see below — this is still private property. You can’t show up and have a picnic.]
Press release from the North Coast Regional Land Trust:
The Northcoast Regional Land Trust (NRLT), the California Wildlife Conservation Board (WCB), and the landowner of the Hunter Ranch announced today that NRLT will permanently hold and steward a 15,682-acre conservation easement on the middle Mad River in eastern Humboldt County.
Known as the Hunter Ranch, this newly protected property includes thousands of acres of beautiful oak woodlands, mature Douglas-fir forest, rolling grasslands, and many miles of frontage on the Mad River—a source of drinking water for much of Humboldt County’s residents. One highlight of the property is iconic Pilot Rock, a landmark often used by early travelers and an area that has been culturally significant going back thousands of years. The conservation partnership between NRLT, WCB, and the landowner will prevent subdivision of this expansive ranch, protecting its remarkable habitat and rich cultural history while providing for continued cattle ranching, a sustainable working forest, and long-term stewardship of the property.
A $3 million grant from the WCB and a generous donation of nearly $2 million in easement value from the landowner helped make this project possible. NRLT and its partners have been working toward the completion of the Hunter Ranch Conservation Easement since 2014.
“The Wildlife Conservation Board (WCB) is proud to be a partner with the Northcoast Regional Land Trust in the 15,682-acre Hunter Ranch Conservation Easement. The ability to preserve and protect working landscapes, including grazing and grasslands, wildlife habitat, cultural values, and the Mad River watershed, is great opportunity that WCB is honored to be a part of,” said John Donnelly, WCB Executive Director.
This property has deep cultural significance due to its location within the Pilot Ridge Archaeological/Historic District, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Pilot Ridge area was traditionally used as a seasonal hunting ground and includes what are thought to be some of the earliest human settlements in the region.
“The land of Hunter Ranch, and the waters that flow through it, have long sustained both people and wildlife. The completion of this project will forever safeguard these critical natural resources as a permanent benefit to the Ranch’s diverse inhabitants, the people and wildlife downstream, and the generations to come,” said NRLT Executive Director Dan Ehresman.
This easement nearly doubles the number of acres conserved by the Northcoast Regional Land Trust, a leader in conservation in our community for almost 20 years.
“As we celebrate the completion of this far reaching conservation project, it is worth noting that this is a good time for landowners to be looking at creating their own conservation easements,” said Ehresman. “In addition to possible tax benefits, there is funding available for easement projects through the State of California for preserving working lands, conserving unique habitats, and protecting waterways. NRLT staff is available to discuss private land conservation options with landowners based in Humboldt, Trinity and Del Norte Counties.”