Landowner Donates Easement for Rare West County Wildland
Siskiyou Land Conservancy recently recorded a conservation easement that permanently protects 163 acres of privately owned second-growth redwood forestland and meadows in western Mendocino County.
The two parcels, near Elk, stretch from a rolling ridgetop to a significant salmonid stream, and feature extensive redwood groves, including some of the oldest second-growth forest in the county. The conservation easement also protects scattered “residual” old-growth redwood trees and unentered stands of old-growth Douglas fir.
The land’s elegant ridgetop meadows are noteworthy. They remain undeveloped in a region of coastal Mendocino County that is otherwise highly desirable for large ridgetop homes and vineyards. The easement allows just one new dwelling, and the possible expansion of an existing dwelling, on the entire 163 acres.
“This conservation easement is especially exciting for Siskiyou Land Conservancy,” said Greg King, SLC president and program director. “The easement protects two small private parcels that contain rare and significant habitats. It’s this type of action that was a primary motivator for creating Siskiyou Land Conservancy five years ago.”
The owner of the Mendocino County property contacted Siskiyou Land Conservancy last year to develop and hold the easement. A conservation easement is a legally binding agreement between a land trust and landowner that protects private parcels by disallowing certain uses. The easement is recorded with the county and remains binding even if the land is sold.
This easement disallows subdivision, commercial logging, road building and other potentially harmful uses, including application of pesticides. It protects more than one-half mile of a large creek that provides habitat for salmon and steelhead, and another half-mile of a smaller creek that provides clear water year-round.
Preserving the meadows protects native grasses, which are returning to the land after the owners removed sheep from the property when they bought the land 40 years ago. The meadows also provide habitat for coyote mint (Monardella villosa), which the state of California lists as a “threatened species.”
Siskiyou Land Conservancy also holds a conservation easement on 148 acres on the South Fork of the Smith River, in Del Norte County. This easement protects the largest privately held riverside flat along the South Fork Smith River, as well as the easternmost redwoods on the Smith River. In addition, Siskiyou Land Conservancy owns two parcels: 80 acres of rare plant habitat on the North Fork Smith River, and 160 acres of Coho salmon spawning habitat on the South Fork Eel River.
Siskiyou Land Conservancy serves private landowners in the five northwestern California counties of Humboldt, Del Norte, Mendocino, Trinity and Siskiyou.