Historic Cattle Ranch Preserved in Bridgeport Valley

 Bridgeport Valley, in northern Mono County, once known as “Big Meadows”, is one of the largest mountain meadow areas in California. Settled by miners and ranchers 150 years ago, local ranchers in Bridgeport Valley now face rising pressures to develop and subdivide their land. Recently, Centennial Livestock has preserved 718 acres of working agricultural lands with a conservation easement. This important new easement extends conserved private agricultural lands all the way to the northern end of the valley and is an important part of the larger Centennial Ranch holdings, 6,390 acres of which are already under conservation easement thanks to these forward thinking cattlemen. “Conservation easements provide future generations the assurance that scenic open spaces and historical livestock grazing of range and pastureland are maintained for perpetuity,” said Dave Wood, who owns the property along with John Lacey and his son Mark Lacey. “I can think of no other area in California more deserving of protection than the Majestic Bridgeport Valley.”

Preserving working agricultural lands provides multiple benefits to the local economy by ensuring continued agricultural operations and maintaining the natural balance of ranchland. “This means the perpetuation of agriculture,” said Mark Lacey, who owns the property along with his father, John Lacey and partner Dave Wood. “It’s important to preserve and maintain the history of the area and the legacy of the cattle. The only way to protect the land is to not put houses on it.” The conservation easement is a voluntary, permanent, land
protection agreement. The landowners retain title and management of their property, while designating how their land may be used now and in the future.

The property that is now under easement was one of the earliest ranches in the valley and has been utilized for livestock production for 150 years. Under previous ownership, the property was also used for raising horses, sheep, and lamb, however in the years since that time the operation has shifted to cattle. “I have a great love for the Bridgeport Valley. I grew up out there as a kid. I always dreamed of owning a piece of it and keeping it in
conservation and running livestock in an economic way for future generations,” said owner John Lacey. Visitors travelling Highway 395 enjoy the outstanding vistas of the Sierra Nevada mountains, and the open ranchland of the valley below.

“The ESLT board and staff are thrilled to be partnering with these long-time landowners,” said Karen Ferrell-Ingram, Executive Director of Eastern Sierra Land Trust. “These cattlemen and their families have been working the land from Olancha to Bridgeport and providing food for people since the early days. Their work helps keep our valleys green and our rural lands productive and beautiful.”

The project was made possible by a number of funding agencies, including the Department of Conservation’s California Farmland Conservancy Program, the Natural Resources Conservation Service’s (NRCS) Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program (FRPP), and the California Department of Transportation’s Environmental Enhancement and Mitigation Program (EEM). “We’re pleased to have been a part of this project, which will help ensure the viability of the local economy and its western heritage,” said Brian Leahy, head of the Department of Conservation’s Division of Land Resource Protection. “We congratulate the landowners, land trust and our funding partners on the completion of this easement.”

Tom Hallenbeck, District 9 Director for the California Department of Transportation in Bishop said “The Centennial Ranch was a good opportunity for the department to meet the goals of our EEM program, help preserve this beautiful valley, and work in partnership with the other funding partners.”

Eastern Sierra Land Trust works with willing landowners to preserve vital lands in the Eastern Sierra region for their scenic, agricultural, natural, recreational, historical, and watershed values. For more information about this and other conservation easements, visit ESLT’s website at www.eslt.org.

About the Department of Conservation’s California Farmland Conservancy Program: Begun in 1996, the CFCP has provided $77.4 million in funding to permanently shield 52,293 acres of the state’s best and most vulnerable agricultural land from development. Landowners and trusts are encouraged to contact the Division of Land Resource Protection for information about the program and potential funding. For details, visit www.conservation.ca.gov/dlrp.

About the Natural Resources Conservation Service’s (NRCS) Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program (FRPP): The federal FRPP is a voluntary easement program that protects productive agricultural land by providing funds for the purchase of conservation easements to limit conversion of farm and ranch lands to non-agricultural uses. NRCS partners with state, tribal or local governments, and non-governmental organizations to fund the acquisition of conservation easements or other interests in land from landowners. More information is available at www.ca.nrcs.usda.gov.

About the California Department of Transportation’s Environmental Enhancement and Mitigation (EEM) Program: The Transportation Blueprint Legislation of 1989 established the EEM. The EEM allocates ten million dollars annually, to local, state, and federal agencies, and nonprofit organizations for grants to
provide additional mitigation for projects beyond what was required. More information is available at http://www.dot.ca.gov/hq/LocalPrograms/EEM/homepage.htm.

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xain
xain
10 years ago

How much did the taxpayers pay for this? The land is wetlands and not developable anyway.

Ken Warner
Ken Warner
10 years ago

Some George Sorros quotes (I wish I had said them): Now that I have called you on your false accusation, you are using additional smear tactics. A full and fair discussion is essential to democracy. An open society is a society which allows its members the greatest possible degree of… Read more »

Wayne Deja
Wayne Deja
10 years ago

Ken Warner….Isn’t that the truth…..I’m sure they would see this as a perfect area to build the homes needed for the employees working at the Cougar Gold Mine operation they want so badly up in the Bodie Hills…..which ain’t NEVER going to happen.

Ken Warner
Ken Warner
10 years ago

Cue the right wing nuts screaming about jobs…..

kaat
kaat
10 years ago
Reply to  Ken Warner

Name calling, taunting, generalizing comments help no one Ken….you cannot put people’s politics in a box….doing so shuts down communication….it puts people immediately on the defensive…and one wonders why there is so much hatred in the world..

Ken Warner
Ken Warner
10 years ago
Reply to  kaat

Tell it to the Republicans;Tea Bags and the rest of the right wing nuts who only seem to be able to blame others for doing what they themselves do.

Reality Bites
Reality Bites
10 years ago
Reply to  Ken Warner

Ken, you seem like a pretty smart guy. You are starting to figure out that the Infinite Growth Paradigm that every economy in the world is based on, is simply not possible on a planet with 7 billion people and finite resources. It is time to take the next step… Read more »

Ken Warner
Ken Warner
10 years ago
Reply to  Reality Bites

I like parts of Ron Paul’s platform. The foreign policy part. I don’t like his domestic policy. His domestic policies are too simplistic for the complicated world society we live in. I’ll give you his honesty. He is consistent and seems to be his own man. But big corporations and… Read more »

Bishop Dude
Bishop Dude
10 years ago
Reply to  Reality Bites

Ken’s not smart he is just a Liberal Puppet for George Soros and MoveOn.org. He just speaks what they tell him to.

Ken Warner
Ken Warner
10 years ago
Reply to  Reality Bites

Name calling, taunting, generalizing comments help no one [bishop dude]….you cannot put people’s politics in a box….doing so shuts down communication….it puts people immediately on the defensive…and one wonders why there is so much hatred in the world..