The Northcoast Regional Land Trust's Land Conservation and Stewardship program seeks to protect and restore important wild and working lands in Humboldt, Trinity, and Del Norte Counties through voluntary conservation easements or acquisitions and to support landowners in the ongoing stewardship of their lands. We work with conservationists, ranchers, farmers, timberland managers, natural resource scientists and environmental advocates to protect, as one partner put it, "the last best place on the planet".
On California's northernmost coast, demographics reveal a slow and steady growth rate, compared to the rapid rate of growth to the south. As urban areas to the south become increasingly congested, more and more people are moving northward into the still lightly populated areas of Humboldt, Del Norte and Trinity Counties. This wave of development and population increase has caused skyrocketing land values, forcing subdivision and development of North Coast lands.
The Land Trust's conservation work prioritizes natural areas and working land properties with ecosystems that are under threat in this region, including prime farmland and wetlands (or bottom lands), redwood and other coniferous forests, oak woodlands, and coastal plains and estuaries.
Central to the North Coast's ecology, culture and economy are the private resource lands and land owners that provide the functional core of the region's resource based industries. Private resource lands in the region have a complimentary, but distinctly separate role to play from the region's public lands in achieving landscape-scale conservation objectives. As such, individuals, organizations and public officials recognize and support thoughtful conservation activities on these private lands and are working to prevent fragmentation of the land base.
Excluding timber production, more than 25% of the land in Humboldt County is in agricultural production, with dairy being one of the most prominent industries. Our area's productive soil, mild climate and ample rainfall result in excellent pastureland that allows our dairy farmers to run herds that are only 10 to 20% the size of many dairies in the Central Valley.
The North Coast also supports a unique niche in floral nursery production, as well as livestock grazing, field and row crops, organic vegetables, orchards, vineyards, medicinal herbs, spinning wools, and more. Productive farmland here provides us with a host of benefits, including open space and expansive views, habitat for many species of migrating birds and other wildlife, and locally-grown produce.
Many of the properties across our region remain in a largely natural and wild state, holding significant ecological, cultural, educational, or recreational resources that are threatened by rapid growth and development pressures. The Land Trust works with all willing landowners that hold such properties, to develop a conservation plan that works for the landowner and future generations of land stewards while protecting these significant wildlands attributes.
Examples of attributes a landowner may wish to protect include old-growth forest stands, wetlands, anadromous fish habitat, meadows, oak woodlands, alluvial terraces, archaeological sites, river access routes, natural history education opportunities, and rare plant and wildlife species.
In addition to pristine properties, NRLT is looking at previously managed ranchlands and forestlands that have been taken out of production by their owners, and now have enormous potential for returning to wild conditions. Many of the projects are located in areas where several adjacent neighbors with similar conservation values are also interested in donating conservation easements. These projects offer the opportunity to create large, intact natural corridors for wildlife and water quality.