Capital Region Cares Capital Region Cares 2017-2018 - Page 44

n Success story in Land We Trust THE YOLO LAND TRUST BY Robin Epley PHOTO: Ken James HAS PROTECTED YOLO ur mission is simple and vital,” says Michelle Clark, execu- tive director of the Yolo Land Trust. That mission is to per- manently conserve farmland in Yolo County. As modern-day farmers find it in- creasingly difficult to deny the financial gains of selling their land for develop- ment, the Yolo Land Trust gives them a viable business option to conserve their property. “Yolo County is unique in that the boundaries of the city are compact,” she says. “As you leave Davis, there’s [immediately] a farm and that’s unique — but that’s at risk.” The most common way the or- ganization protects farmland, Clark says, is through a conservation ease- ment. According to their website, these easements are voluntary agreements COUNTY FARMERS AND FARMLAND FROM ENCROACHING DEVELOPMENT FOR MORE THAN 25 YEARS p h oto : co u rt e sy o f y vo n n e h u n t e r 44 CAPITAL REGION CARES 2017 | O between a Yolo landowner and the Trust, “in which the landowner agrees to restrict the use of the land to farm- ing, ranching or habitat protection. The landowner continues to own, manage and operate the land, and pay proper- ty taxes, but the land must remain as a working farm.” Paul Muller, a founding member of Yolo Land Trust and formerly on the board of directors, says they’re “very proud of the fact that we [are] an orga- nization for farmland.” The Trust has permanently protected 11,000 acres of farmland, says Clark, through more than 60 conservation easements. When the Trust began nearly 25 years ago, “it felt like it was very im- portant to have some tools to educate policymakers; the Trust filled a hole where no one was doing that work,” Muller says. “It’s still an evolving tool,