WATSONVILLE — The Land Trust of Santa Cruz County has added a new parcel to its portfolio of Pajaro Valley farmland protected from future development, bringing its total to more than 1,800 acres.
That total, added to the natural land already protected by the Land Trust, adds up to more than 14,000 acres throughout Santa Cruz County.
The organization’s newest acquisition is a 180-acre ranch along Lake Tynan just outside Watsonville.
This property has produced a wide variety of produce over the decades, and is capable of producing 20 tons of berries per acre and approximately 100 acres are certified as organic, said Land Trust Executive Director Stephen Slade.
In protecting the land through an easement, the Land Trust worked with the Conservation Fund, which purchased the property on April 25.
The Conservation Fund has helped protect more than 8 million acres of land in the United States since 1985. About a half million of those acres are in California, mostly notably approximately 74,000 acres in the North Coast redwoods in Mendocino and Humboldt counties.
The two organizations will work together to place an agricultural conservation easement, which restricts development and ensures the land remains protected.
The two organizations will then sell the property to a private buyer, Slade said.
Slade said that, without the easements, the verdant and productive farmland around Watsonville will always be at risk of being usurped by developers.
“In our view the Pajaro Valley is ripe for development without these protections,” Slade said. “The time to protect the land from development is not when the bulldozers are there. It’s right now.”
For information, visit www.landtrustsantacruz.org.