AUBURN, CA, April 16, 2020 — Placer Land Trust has permanently protected yet another historic working landscape in Placer County to ensure critical lands are kept open for agricultural production, now and forever. Placer Land Trust and landowner Patti Beard have placed an Agricultural Conservation Easement on the 137-acre Beard Ranch in North Auburn, permanently prohibiting subdivision and development while allowing the landowner to keep living on the property and continue ranching.

“Too often large productive agricultural properties in our rural countryside are paved over for subdivision and private development,” says Placer Land Trust Executive Director Jeff Darlington. “But when a landowner is willing to give up the right to subdivide and develop their land, then Placer Land Trust can ensure that some of our treasured agricultural heritage and productivity is protected, now and for future generations.”

The Beard family bought the ranch in 1955 and operated it as a dairy until 1982, when Patti Beard took ownership and began running it as a beef cattle (cow/calf) operation. The now-protected “Beard Ranch Preserve” features a mixture of irrigated pasture, annual grasslands, blue oak woodlands, and some remnant fruit trees from the 1920s, when the property produced plums, pears, and grapes. It supports a diverse range of plants and wildlife in addition to pastured cattle. The Agricultural Conservation Easement allows Beard or any future landowner to continue ranching or transition to another agricultural use if so desired.

“I’m so happy that Placer Land Trust took the lead many years ago to preserve land in Placer County,” says Beard. “When I’m no longer working the ranch, I would like to see it operated by a young farmer or rancher with values similar to mine, and the Agricultural Conservation Easement will ensure that can happen by protecting the land for active farming.”

The ranch and surrounding area north of Auburn is designated by Placer County as “Farmland of Local Importance” based on soil quality and land use. But despite its value as farmland and rangeland, this area has seen escalated subdivision and residential development over the past several decades. Beard Ranch Preserve is directly adjacent to Taylor Ranch Preserve, one of several large rangeland and oak woodland properties in the area that has been saved from subdivision and development by Placer Land Trust for a mix of environmental, agricultural, and/or recreational purposes. Beard Ranch Preserve, which remains privately owned and is not open to the public, is adjacent to a large block of almost 5,000 acres of connected and permanently protected land across the Raccoon Creek and Bear River watersheds.

The majority of the funding for the Beard Ranch Preserve project was generously provided by California Climate Investments (CCI) via the Strategic Growth Council’s “Sustainable Agricultural Lands Conservation Program.” CCI is a statewide initiative that puts billions of Cap-and-Trade dollars to work reducing greenhouse gas emissions, strengthening the economy, and improving public health and the environment. Funding was also provided by grants from California Farmland Conservation Program and Placer County, by a generous contribution from Patti Beard herself, and by dozens of Placer Land Trust members who made donations during a special agricultural land conservation auction at the trust’s 2018 Placer Conservator event. The individual contributions from Beard and other local supporters ensured Placer Land Trust had the resources to pursue these State grants and demonstrated to State funders that the local community supports Placer Land Trust’s work to protect rural Placer County.

The Agricultural Conservation Easement runs with title to the land, meaning all future landowners will be prohibited from subdividing and developing the property. The permanent nature of the conservation provides benefits not only to the property itself, but to neighbors who should enjoy seeing less growth and greater property values, to our community that benefits from our continued agricultural economy, and to everyone who values the natural beauty and quality of life in rural Placer County.