Protected Farmland Reduces Flood Risk for Sacramento

July 9, 2013

The Trust for Public Land today announced the permanent conservation of over 2,962 acres of prime farmland in the Sacramento River floodplain.

The land, known as River Ranch, is in the Elkhorn Basin, near the Sacramento River in Yolo County. The farm, less than 3 miles west of Sacramento International Airport, has extensive levee-protected frontage on the west bank of the river, which forms the farm's eastern, northern and northwestern borders. The property is bounded on the west by the Yolo Bypass levee.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has declared the entire ranch to be in an area which is subject to 100 year floods. The area has a vast system of drainage ditches, canals, pumps and pipes located under the levees to keep the land from flooding during winter storms.

The Trust for Public Land bought a conservation easement, which will keep the ranch in agricultural production, preventing it from being developed as housing or commercial property.

"Today, the city of Sacramento is in greater danger of a catastrophic flood event than New Orleans," said Erik Vink, Project Manager for The Trust for Public Land. "It's vital to keep big areas of open land next to the river free from development, to avoid placing more homes and businesses at risk. No area should flood, but if floods happen, they're better off occurring in an undeveloped area."

Pat Shea, executive director of the Wildlife Heritage Foundation, said, "The Wildlife Heritage Foundation is very fortunate to have been given the opportunity to take the agricultural conservation easement on this incredibly important farmland. We look forward to working with the ranch ownership in protecting the agricultural and wildlife habitat values in perpetuity. It was a pleasure to collaborate with the ownership and Trust for Public Land in completing this historic project."

The money to buy the conservation easement, which will be granted to the Wildlife Heritage Foundation, came from an $8.9 million grant from the California Department of Water Resources Flood Corridor Program. The funding source was Proposition 1E, a bond passed in 2006 by California voters.

Founded in 1972, The Trust for Public Land is the leading nonprofit working to conserve land for people. Operating from more than 30 offices nationwide, The Trust for Public Land has protected more than three million acres from the inner city to the wilderness and helped generate more than $34 billion in public funds for conservation. Nearly ten million people live within a ten-minute walk of a Trust for Public Land park, garden, or natural area, and millions more visit these sites every year.