Sequoia Riverlands Trust recipient of $347K conservation grant
Sequoia Riverlands Trust, a regional nonprofit Central California land trust that owns and manages Lewis Hill Preserve north of Porterville and Kaweah Oaks Preserve in Visalia, has been awarded a $347,061 conservation grant, the Sierra Nevada Conservancy announced Thursday.
According to a news release issued Thursday, the SNC governing board approved $5.2 million in Proposition 84 grant awards to assist Sierra ranchers and farmers in 18 counties with conservation measures designed to protect the state’s most important watersheds. The action was taken at the board’s quarterly meeting in Sacramento.
With the completion of this grant round, the SNC has awarded $52 million to nearly 300 projects in the Sierra in the past five years. A wide variety of projects have been funded, including those to reduce the risk of catastrophic fire, protect important landscapes and improve watershed health.
The Sequoia Riverlands Trust project involves the acquisition of a conservation easement on part of a southern Sierra foothills ranch in the White River Watershed in Tulare County. The ranch contains valuable grassland, sycamore alluvial woodland, vernal pool and blue oak savannah habitats that are suitable for a number of special status species, such as San Joaquin kit fox, blunt-nosed leopard lizard, vernal pool fairy shrimp, burrowing owl and a variety of other grassland-dependent species.
The Prop. 84 grant would cover Phase 1 of the project, which is estimated to cost roughly $1.5 million total.
Phase 1 will protect intermittent streams and associated springs in the Fountain Springs Gulch area in the northeast corner of the ranch.
The project will result in the establishment of a conservation easement on approximately 480 acres, with the Sierra Nevada Conservancy covering the purchase price and transaction costs on roughly 380 acres, and the landowner donating the conservation easement on the remaining 100 acres.
“These working landscapes have a rich and important place in our region, so preserving that heritage is critical to our future,” said SNC Executive Officer Jim Branham in the news release. “These lands provide not only economic benefits, but substantial natural resource benefits as well. These projects will help conserve or restore land and water resources valuable to those living downstream.”
Funding was made available after a competitive grant round in which 62 qualified applications were received, totaling $11 million in requests.