1,500 Acres in Cache Valley Preserved (UT)

Paradise, Utah, 9/20/03 – Mark E. Rey, U.S. Department of Agriculture Under Secretary for Natural Resources and the Environment, today joined the Trust for Public Land (TPL), a national non-profit land conservation organization, at a celebration marking the preservation of more than 1,500 acres of ranchland in historic Cache Valley.

The celebration marked the conveyance of a conservation easement on Brooke Ranch to the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food for protection in perpetuity.

Keynote speaker Under Secretary Rey was followed by speakers representing the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food; Shauna Kerr, vice chair of the Utah Quality Growth Commission; Skip Nelson, state conservationist of the U.S. Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS); Bill Christensen, Utah regional director of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation; John Hansen, Cache County Council; Landowners Jon and Vickie White; and Alan Front, Senior Vice President of the Trust for Public Land.

Alina Bokde, the TPL Project Manager, said, “This project exemplifies the kind of multi-agency effort that makes the preservation of working lands a success. My colleagues and I are very grateful for the support of our partners, Jon and Vickie White, our funders and the community. Not only is Brooke Ranch protected, but the Cache Valley agricultural community has a vivid example of how the purchase of development rights can protect working lands and of the local, regional and national support that such efforts attract.”

TPL Utah, in partnership with the landowner, the U.S.DA NRCS, Utah Quality Growth Commission, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation has secured funding to purchase development and other rights to Brooke Ranch, which was settled by the White family in 1906. Funds for the purchase of the easement came from the USDA Farm and Ranch Land Protection Program, the LeRay McAllister Critical Lands Conservation Program, the George S. and Dolores Dore Eccles Foundation, the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, and other donors.

The development rights were conveyed to the Utah State Department of Agriculture and Food in the form of a conservation easement, which will contain permanent restrictions on the use and development of the land, and permit only certain agricultural uses.

“Protecting Utah agriculture protects our food supply, our environment and our heritage,” said Cary G. Peterson, Utah Commissioner of Agriculture and Food. “Protecting these acres in Cache County sends a positive message to other land owners who are considering what to do with their land for the future,” he added.

Shauna Kerr, vice-chair of the Quality Growth Commission said, “The Quality Growth Commission must carefully evaluate proposed projects and select those that we determine are truly ‘critical lands’ and those that have significant partners to leverage our investment. This project met both of these tests and could not have been accomplished by any one of the partners or funding mechanisms, however; together we have preserved this beautiful agricultural land. Together we have assured that this land continues to grow crops and livestock instead of little houses in a row. I grew up in this Valley and I have watched as one field after another has been subdivided and fewer and fewer acres are in production. Efforts like this will assure that our children and grandchildren will know and appreciate Cache Valley as the agricultural heart of Utah.”

In protecting Brooke Ranch, TPL also preserves a significant piece of the the historic agricultural character of the community established by early Mormon settlers, including the property owner’s great-grandfather.

The protection of Brooke Ranch also supports important wildlife habitat lands and natural resource values. Bill Christensen, Utah regional director of The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, said “Elk, deer and moose all winter here and are dependent on this important habitat. Sharp-tail grouse are also found on this important piece of ground. This generous gift from the White family will continue to protect key wildlife habitat.”

The Trust for Public Land is a national non-profit land conservation organization. TPL’s mission is to conserve land for people to enjoy as parks, gardens, and natural areas, and ensuring livable communities for generations to come. Since its founding in 1972, TPL has helped protect more than 1.45 million acres. TPL depends on the support of individuations, foundations and corporations. For more information, visit TPL on the web at www.tpl.org. In Utah, TPL has helped preserve more than 33,000 acres. Aside from Cache Valley, TPL is active throughout the state, preserving forest wilderness, protecting public access to the 100-mile long Bonneville Shoreline Trail, and working with willing sellers to return culturally significant lands to Native Americans.