Thursday, July 24, 2014

Land sold as permanent agriculture east of town

From page A1 | March 20, 2014 |

The Yolo Land Trust announced more details Wednesday on the sale of a 359-acre farm property east of the Mace curve that had been finalized on March 11.

The land — formerly called Mace 391 and now called Leland Ranch — will be preserved permanently as an agricultural endeavor with a conservation easement. The new owners are identified as Ranjit and Sukhwant Dhillon, who are bound by the easement to use the land for some sort of agricultural use in perpetuity.

The land trust partnered with the city of Davis and the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service in order to sell the land with the conservation easement attached. Besides being grateful for the city’s help, Michele Clark, executive director of the land trust, said the location of Leland Ranch makes it a “critical” farm to keep in production.

“Once again, Davis has partnered with the Yolo Land Trust and the U.S. Natural Resources Conservation Service to preserve some of California’s best farmland,” said Mayor Joe Krovoza, in a statement. “Permanently protecting the 359-acre Leland Ranch at the edge of town is a legacy Davis citizens leave that demonstrates the community’s commitment to smart land use policies and the protection of world-class natural resources.”

Krovoza pointed out Davis’ residents support the city’s open space fund every year with a parcel tax of $24, originally voted in as Measure O in 2000.

The deal used money from the open space fund and a grant through the USDA’s farm and ranch lands protection program.

“Leland Ranch is now privately owned and operated and on the local tax rolls,” Clark wrote in a statement. “No further public investment will be required to keep the land in productive agriculture.”

Last year, local businesspeople approached the city about using the land for a technology business park, but the City Council stayed true to years of policy decisions in moving forward with a conservation easement. A plan to develop the park was thought to potentially block key grants from the land trust and would have required a Measure R vote to see if the residents of Davis agreed with the proposal to bring the land into the city.

In November 2010, the council voted to use Measure O funds to aid in buying the ranch through an arrangement with the land trust and the USDA.

The 2012 Yolo County Agricultural Report, the most recent official barometer of the economic health of farming in Yolo County, cited an all-time high $645 million worth of agricultural production, a 17.5 percent increase from the year prior.

The Leland Ranch easement is one of more than 55 on farms throughout Yolo County. The land trust’s mission for the last 25 years is to protect agriculture and open space.

The city has recently invested time and energy not east of Davis to look at developing a business park, but southeast of the UC Davis campus at the 45-acre Nishi property, part of the UCD and city of Davis Downtown/University Gateway Project. It would feature housing, offices and other amenities.

— Reach Dave Ryan at 530-747-8057. Follow him on Twitter at @davewritesnews


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