Through a variety of conservation tactics, we unified the disparate goals of one family—and kept a cattle ranch whole.

Planning to Protect a Ranching Legacy


Owners of a cattle ranch in the California foothills sought the assistance of Resources Law Group to develop and implement conservation strategies for their property. The several-thousand-acre property had been in the family for generations and was used as both a working cattle ranch and a private hunting and recreational preserve.

All of the owners shared a desire to protect the family property’s natural resource values and traditional ranching uses. But none had considered all of the conservation, financial, tax, and estate planning complexities of implementing that vision. They asked us to identify the full range of conservation options for the property and to design a plan that would also meet other goals of each landowner.

Our work included:

Planning: We began with a comprehensive evaluation of the ranch’s unique biological, open space, agricultural, and recreational characteristics, and threats to the survival of these assets. We also surveyed the intensity and effectiveness of other conservation efforts in the region. We drew from a wide range of background data and mapping sources, including site investigations and interviews with biologists and conservation experts familiar with the property and the region, as well as tax and estate professionals.

Strategy: We developed conservation strategies, projects, and transactions that would protect the ranch, and identified the business, tax, and estate repercussions for each landowner. Our strategies included sales, bargain sales, donations, and bequests to nonprofit conservation organizations, public agencies, and conservation buyers. We also explored public and private funding mechanisms.

Transaction: The landowners moved forward with one solution: donating a conservation easement to a nonprofit that we identified, followed by the subsequent resale of the easement-encumbered property to a conservation buyer.

We represented the landowners in early discussions and negotiations. We also helped draft, review, and negotiate documents for both transactions. And we worked directly with the landowners’ tax advisors, estate counsel, and accountant to ensure that the transactions’ documents and structure achieved the desired tax and financial outcomes.