$12.4 million easement OK for Jacks Valley Ranch | RecordCourier.com

$12.4 million easement OK for Jacks Valley Ranch

Staff Reports

A photo of a headstone in Jacks Valley Cemetery, located on the Jacks Valley Ranch.

Approval for the purchase of a $12.4 million conservation easement on Jacks Valley Ranch was announced by the Bureau of Land Management on Wednesday.

The purchase is the largest single expenditure in the latest round of funding totaling nearly $80 million generated through sale of public lands under the Southern Nevada Public Land Management Act.

More than 1,230 acres of conservation easement on Jacks Valley Ranch has been recommended for purchase in the latest round of a federal program to preserve environmentally sensitive land.

Long owned by John and Rose Ascuaga, the ranch land west of Jacks Valley Road is home to 2,377 acre feet of water rights a year.

The easement could be purchased by Nevada Day 2017.

Ranching would continue on the property, which was nominated by The Conservation Fund and the Nevada Land Trust.

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"These projects are a benefit to both the environment and the economy," said Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management Janice Schneider, who approved the grants. "This program supports an incredible legacy of improved quality of life for all Nevadans."

The BLM, in collaboration with its partners, funds projects that benefit local communities and improve the overall quality of life by restoring landscapes, protecting environmentally-sensitive areas, supporting recreation opportunities, and protecting rural communities from wildfire. A significant portion of the funds are shared with local governments and the State of Nevada.

"I am excited to be back in my home state to announce these important community projects," said BLM Director Neil Kornze. "These investments will strengthen outdoor opportunities in the Las Vegas Valley and in many of Nevada's small towns."

Ranch owners John and Rose Ascuaga are in their 90s, and there was the possibility the ranch could change hands in the next few years or be subdivided and sold off if it wasn't preserved, according to a Nevada Land Trust official.

Jacks Valley Ranch is home to 737 acres of irrigated pastures, six acres of ponds and wetlands, 377 acres of mixed conifer forest and 111 acres of sage and bitter brush.

The land lies between the National Forest and the Jacks Valley Wildlife Management Area.

There are two 150-year-old barns on the property. The ranch has nearly two miles of frontage on three streams, including Water Canyon, Jacks Valley Creek and Chedle Creek.

An underground fuel storage tank was removed by the owner, but there wasn't testing to see if it had leaked. There are three other tanks that also require examination, according to the nomination document.

Selling a permanent conservation easement allows for preservation of the ranch at half to three-quarters fair market value. It also keeps the ranch on the county tax roles, in addition to allowing continued ranching.

According to the Nevada Department of Wildlife, the property is home to a variety of wild species, including black bear, mule deer and mountain lions.

"A conservation easement will maintain the important habitats found on the property and continue to support the many species," Nevada Department of Wildlife Director Tony Wasley wrote.