DU recently partnered with the Wood family to acquire its first conservation easement
in northeast California
, a 1,781-acre perpetual easement on the Leavitt Lake Ranch and the Wood Ranch. These contiguous ranches are located in the Southern Oregon-Northeast California (SONEC) region, which was recently identified as one of the most important spring migration
landscapes for waterfowl in North America.
The easement will protect wetlands and other wildlife habitats
on this working cattle ranch from development. Located in close proximity to Susanville, this area is experiencing rapid human population growth and residential development pressure, threatening key wildlife habitats on working ranchlands. Over the past decade, DU has partnered with federal and state agencies, local land trusts, and private landowners to acquire conservation easements on priority landscapes in California. While past easements have been held by one of DU's partners, the Leavitt Lake Ranch−Wood Ranch easement is the first in California's portion of the SONEC region that DU will hold and monitor.
These ranches include a mixture of wetlands, grasslands, riparian scrub, and Great Basin uplands. This easement also includes a portion of Leavitt Lake Reservoir, one of three water-storage reservoirs owned by Lassen Irrigation Company. This reservoir supports large numbers of migrating, nesting, and molting waterfowl as well as the largest white-faced ibis breeding colony in the region. The ranches are also located near Honey Lake Wildlife Area, an important waterfowl, waterbird, and shorebird migration and breeding area.
Funding for the purchase of this easement was provided by a $1.7 million grant from the California Wildlife Conservation Board. DU hopes to leverage the value of this easement acquisition to restore and protect additional properties in this high-priority waterfowl conservation area.