Tempering growth and protecting resource rich grazing lands
The Nature Conservancy transferred
two conservation easements over the 2,067-acre Cunningham Ranch to the
California Rangeland Trust in the early part of 2005. Adjacent to the 3,861-acre Nelson Cattle
Ranch where the California Rangeland Trust also holds a conservation easement,
the Cunningham Ranch easements help to establish connectivity of preserved
working landscapes in the Great Central Valley.
With UC Merced spurring growth just miles away, these conservation
agreements will help to balance as well as temper growth patterns in the
surrounding region. The ranch provides
valuable habitat for native wildlife species, including raptors, waterfowl,
vernal pool invertebrates, fairy shrimp, other vernal pool crustaceans and many
other common and rare plants and animals.
In spring, the vernal pools blossom for a spectacular sight. The easements also preserve one of the
region's most noteworthy historical ranches.
James Cunningham, a sea captain, established the original ranch in
1851and the original adobe still stands on the Nelson Cattle Ranch. The conservation agreements ensure that the
core of the original Cunningham Ranch will be preserved in perpetuity.