About a month ago I wrote an article about Bay Area Ranchers who are land conservation activists. Koopmann’s Ranch, located in Sunol, hosted a tour of their ranch to show people what it means to privately own land, protect its resources and how that benefits both the wildlife and the residents surrounding the property. The tour has come and gone and I wanted to follow up on some of the lessons the tour had to offer.
“The Koopmanns are proof that ranchers are some of California’s best conservationists,” said Ashley Boren, Executive Director of Sustainable Conservation. “The tour enabled us to see firsthand how sound stewardship of rangelands in the Bay Area can, for example, increase species diversity and enhance conditions for endangered animals and plants. I encourage everyone to visit a local ranch to see how they help in maintaining a healthy environment.”
Water also has a lot to do with how the Koopmanns’ help the surrounding residents. Water flows from their land into housing developments and golf courses. Their dedication to keeping water quality high benefits the residents who are down hill from the ranch.
Another issue that continued to come up during the tour was who was going to take over when the Koopmanns retired and what would happen if they sold the ranch. With encroaching development at their doorstep, there has been many offers to buy the ranch.
“We had plenty of opportunities to sell the ranch in its entirety, which could have been done easily,” Tim Koopmann said. “But there was, since 1918, too much in the way of blood, sweat and tears in this family operation that we made the decision not to sell.”
Plus, the Koopmanns put a few environmental easements on the property to restrict development of the property and reduce the value so developers would be less likely to buy the property and build on it.
The moral I took away from this story is that no matter how much money you throw at someone, it will never replace the connection they have with their land. In fact, it takes courage to say “No! I don’t want houses and shopping malls on my home even if it means millions in my pocket.”
Thanks to all the ranchers out there who are tied to the land and protect it. Thank you for being better stewards than we are. Thank you for setting an example of how we need to reconnect with nature and appreciate the value of our environment. Because somewhere along the way we lost those values and don’t even realize we are starving for them.
Thanks to www.rangelandtrust.org for the photos