Sierra Club has long worked to protect the unparalleled natural legacy of Tejon Ranch, a remnant of early California that provides valuable habitat for pronghorn, deer, elk and other wildlife. In 2006, recognizing that development could tear apart a remarkably intact wild place that the California Department of Fish and Game identified as providing “outstanding contributions to the promotion of California’s rich hunting heritage,” Sierra Club and its conservation partners began negotiating with the Tejon Ranch Corporation to conserve, in perpetuity, as much of the stunning landscape as possible. After nearly 2 years of negotiations, which were sometimes difficult but always in good faith, an unprecedented agreement that will conserve close to 90% of the ranch was reached earlier this month.
“There is, in my opinion, no other place like it in California – it is unrivaled in the diversity of native wildlife and plants,” said Sierra Club’s Bill Corcoran, who helped negotiate the deal. “Tejon is key to us because it’s the only place where the Sierra Nevadas, the Coastal Range, the Mojave Desert and Central Valley all meet.”
As part of the agreement, close to 240,000 acres will be conserved in perpetuity for the benefit of the people and wildlife of California. Covering 375 square miles the conservation area that includes desert, woodland and grassland habitat will be 8 times the size of the City of San Francisco and nearly the size of all of Los Angeles. Well managed, public access to the conservation lands for a variety of outdoor activities, including hunting, will be provided.
Under the agreement, Tejon Ranch will continue its popular hunting program, coordinating management of game with the new Tejon Ranch Conservancy. Tejon Ranch banned lead ammunition on its property last year in order to protect the California Condor, which frequents the Ranch and is highly susceptible to lead poisoning.
“The Tejon victory is a sober reminder of the importance of setting you sights high, staying at the negotiating table and being willing to bargain hard,” said Sierra Club Executive Director Carl Pope.
Founded in 1892, Sierra Club is America’s oldest and largest grassroots conservation organization and is dedicated to the exploration, enjoyment and protection of the planet.