1,228-acre Park Lyon County ranch conserved

Desert Creek Ranch pastures are a designated grassland of special environmental significance and home to the Bi-State sage grouse, a species of paramount ecological importance.

Desert Creek Ranch pastures are a designated grassland of special environmental significance and home to the Bi-State sage grouse, a species of paramount ecological importance.
Dalton Paley & Andie Stewart/ Eastern Sierra Land Trust

A 1,228-acre ranch in southern Lyon County owned by the Park family has been preserved, according to the Eastern Sierra Land Trust.

The 11-year process began when the effort to acquire a conservation easement on Desert Creek Ranch was listed in the 2012 Bi-State sage-grouse Action Plan.

“It’s been a blend of challenges, learning, and ultimately, success, but our commitment to the land and our perseverance brought us here today,” landowner David Park said at the announcement on Nov. 15.

According to the Trust, funding was provided through the Livestock in Harmony with Bi-State Sage-Grouse project under USDA’s Regional Conservation Partnership Program, which provided $7.2 million for the purchase of conservation and wetlands easements in

Nevada and California. For the Desert Creek Ranch project, USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service provided $1.545 million, and the Nevada Department of Wildlife provided an additional $190,417 in funding along with a personal donation by Park toward the purchase.

“Projects like this highlight the need for collaboration between federal, state, and non-government partners like (the Trust) to support landowners who want to maintain or enhance their land in a way beneficial to agriculture and the environment,” said

Greg Becker, who is acting Nevada state conservationist for the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

The ranch, located in southern Lyon County across Antelope Valley from Topaz Ranch Estates, is a designated grassland of special environmental significance, according to the Trust. The property is home to the bi-state sage grouse, which is a potentially protected species. Desert Creek which rises in the Sweetwater Mountains, runs through the property, providing senior water rights in the area.

“We have a deep history of ranching and have always wanted to continue this legacy,” Park said. It seemed like the right thing for the ranch, especially given the vital role of water on this property. Preserving this land in perpetuity for agriculture and habitat for

sage grouse is a perfect fit for the community, the Eastern Sierra, and for Park Ranch.”

Surface water from Desert Creek irrigates pastures, and the stored water from Lobdell Lake is released seasonally, both of which are essential to sage grouse habitats.

“If it wasn’t for the water, there wouldn’t be a ranch, and without the ranch, these birds wouldn’t thrive as they do today,” said Park. “When water gets diverted, it’s generally not beneficial to wildlife, but this is an incredible exception to the rule. These birds wouldn’t be here, certainly not in these numbers, without these irrigated meadows.”

Park, who also owns Sleeping Elephant Ranch just across Highway 208 in southern Douglas County, said he was excited to preserve the property.

“Ranching is my way of life and without land and water, you can’t provide otherwise,” Park said. “Land is the key component to raising and growing livestock and crops, which is something that I truly enjoy doing.”

His advice to other landowners considering conservation is that while every property is unique, easements are a tool in the toolbox for agricultural operations.

The conservation easement was the Land Trust’s first Nevada project and the first time that used the regional conservation funding in the Silver State.

“Seeing this project come to fruition reflects a tremendous commitment to a true collaborative effort that will benefit multiple species and their habitat for generations to come,” said Department of Wildlife Director Alan Jenne.

For more information, visit www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs-initiatives/acep-agricultural-conservation-easement-program/ne



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