Who says environmentalists and cattle grazers can’t work together? Not these Oregonians. The owners of the Lightning Creek Ranch in the eastern part of the state are working with The Nature Conservancy, the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS), and The Climate Trust to find ways to make their estate both profitable and environmentally friendly.

Here’s what they worked out:

The [Probert family who owns Lightning Creek Ranch] have sold an agricultural conservation easement on the property that will prohibit conversion of native grassland caused by tilling or energy development, while allowing the property to be used for livestock grazing that follows a grazing management plan.

“Wallowa County is a very special and unique place, and I believe it is absolutely critical that we protect our resources for future generations,” said Dan Probert. “Because of this agricultural conservation easement, Lightning Creek Ranch will always remain a working ranch while also protecting some of the most beautiful and ecologically important lands in the country.”

Through an easement, landowners willingly sell or donate only those rights necessary to protect specific conservation values, such as fish and wildlife habitat.  Easements are individually tailored to meet a landowner’s goals and the landscape’s needs. Because the land remains in private ownership, with the remainder of the rights intact, an agricultural easement property continues to provide economic benefits for the area in the form of jobs, economic production, and property taxes. … In addition to helping conserve North America’s largest remaining grassland of its type and supporting the local ranching community, this agricultural conservation easement prevents the Lightning Creek Ranch from any conversion for residential or commercial energy development or crops. Preventing these changes and maintaining the native grassland will keep an estimated 55,000 tons of carbon in the ground, a benefit that secured funding for this transaction from The Climate Trust.

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