November 10, 2022

Land Trust of Santa Cruz County in California Secures Conservation Easement on Tynan Ranch Protects Prime Farmland in South County from Future Development

This release was originally distributed by the Land Trust of Santa Cruz County and re-published here with permission.

Santa Cruz, CA — The 178-acre Tynan Ranch, located one-half mile from the current urban growth line of the City of Watsonville, serves as an important buffer between the city and farmland. Tynan Ranch has been in production for over a century and is 100% certified organic. The Land Trust’s conservation easement will help protect this prime farmland from the pressures of future development and keep it in production for the foreseeable future. A grant from the California Department of Conservation’s Sustainable Agricultural Lands Conservation Program (SALCP) provided the funding for the Land Trust to take ownership of the easement last month.

The Land Trust’s strategy to protect valuable farmland such as Tynan Ranch takes time and strong partnerships. In 2019, The Conservation Fund purchased Tynan Ranch on behalf of the Land Trust, subsequently selling the property to Dirt Capital Partners and the People’s Land Fund with a long-term option agreement for the Land Trust to purchase the conservation easement. In addition to the purchase, Dirt Capital Partners, the People’s Land Fund, and Kitchen Table Advisors (a third partner in this project) collaborated on a plan to transfer ownership of Tynan Ranch to a group of Latino immigrant farmers to address barriers to farmland access.

Conservation easements between landowners and conservation organizations keep land in private hands and productive use, while permanently protecting it from development. These agreements are an increasingly popular way to protect land and an important part of the Land Trust’s strategy to protect the lands and wildlife that make Santa Cruz special.

“Tynan Ranch has long been a priority for the Land Trust due to its prime soils, proximity to the City of Watsonville, and habitat values surrounding Lake Tynan,” said Barry Baker, Director of Land Protection for the Land Trust Santa Cruz County. “We value our relationships with the local farming community, The Conservation Fund, and the Department of Conservation who made this project possible.”

Tynan Ranch and Tynan Lake contribute significantly to the rural character and viewshed of southern Santa Cruz County. The lake provides valuable refuge to wildlife traveling across Pajaro Valley, including several species of ducks, herons, sparrows, raptors, and other birds associated with freshwater marsh and riparian vegetation. The easement will allow the Land Trust to manage and restore this critical riparian habitat.

Conserving Tynan Ranch will also prevent the impacts of development by supporting infill development, which reduces miles traveled and greenhouse emissions, and improves regional air quality by reducing the distance people need to travel within the city.

“We cannot risk losing any more valuable, productive farmland like Tynan Ranch in Santa Cruz County,” said Steve Hobbs, California state director at The Conservation Fund. “Supporting the Land Trust’s unique and ambitious goals for agricultural conservation across the county has been a huge honor and we hope this is just the beginning.”

Year-round organic production of cane berries, leafy greens, and vegetables on Tynan Ranch will directly support the resilience of the local food economy. Local farmers and the Santa Cruz County Farm Bureau ranked Tynan Ranch in the top tier of priorities for conservation.

The work upon which this publication is based was funded in whole or in part through a grant awarded by the California Department of Conservation.

About the Land Trust of Santa Cruz County
The mission of the Land Trust of Santa Cruz County is to protect, care for, and connect people to the extraordinary lands that make this area special. For more information, visit

About The Conservation Fund
At The Conservation Fund, we make conservation work for America. By creating solutions that make environmental and economic sense, we are redefining conservation to demonstrate its essential role in our future prosperity. Top-ranked for efficiency and effectiveness, we have worked in all 50 states since 1985 to protect more than 8.5 million acres of land, including roughly 572,800 acres in California.

Media Contacts:
Laura Dannehl-Schickman| Land Trust of Santa Cruz County | | 831-588-8209
Val Keefer | The Conservation Fund | | 703-908-5802