Environment
5:10 pm
Wed December 19, 2012

Sierra Foothill Conservancy Adds New Wildlife Preserve Near Clovis

Cattle from the Sierra Lands Beef program graze on land that is part of the Sierra Foothill Conservancy's McKenzie Preserve, in March 2012. - file photo
Cattle from the Sierra Lands Beef program graze on land that is part of the Sierra Foothill Conservancy's McKenzie Preserve, in March 2012. - file photo
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

A local conservation group working to preserve foothill ranch land has added another another major property to its list of protected areas.

The Sierra Foothill Conservancy announced today that it has purchased the historic Tallman Ranch east of Clovis. The 280 acre property will become the Ted K. Martin Wildlife Preserve. 

Martin donated $1 million to the conservancy to fund the purchase of the ranch from the Tallman Family and another $300,000 to support its management for the future.

The conservancy's executive director, Jeanette Tuitele-Lewis says the property is rich with wildlife, streams and vernal pools, and will have more limited public access than other preserve holdings.

"Because it has so much abundant wildlife on the property, mainly due to the four ponds that exist, we're going to be making sure that there's less activity on the preserve than there is on some of our other preserves," says Tuitele-Lewis.

She says that after the conservancy lets the land recover from recent overgrazing, it will likely continue as a working cattle ranch, as part of the conservancy's Sierra Lands Beef program.

This acquisition and other recent conservation easements with area cattle ranchers will help bring the conservancy's management area to 25,000 acres. 

"I think what's really exciting about this piece is that we're working hard to start connecting more of the upper San Joaquin River corridor," says Tuitele-Lewis.

Last month the conservancy completed a conservation easement for an additional 1,300 acres on Kennedy Table, near the San Joaquin River, and hopes to close a deal later this week for a conservation easement on an additional 2,011 acres on the south side of Black Mountain in eastern Fresno County.

"When you look at the map you can start seeing the connectivity of these wonderful ranches that need to stay as ranches and various properties that are connecting and helping to protect land into the future," says Tuitele-Lewis.

She says the Tallman Ranch property has been owned by the same family for nearly 80 years, and has a rich history. "The property has a really long history of being will the Tallmans and it formerly had some orchards and before that, there was some viticulture activity on the property, which is really interesting," says Tuitele-Lewis.

She says the conservancy will manage the land using best practices, helping to preserve a vital ecosystem while maintaining ranching operations.

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