The developer of the Tejon Ranch agreed to a plan to put permanent conservation easements on almost 375 square miles of ranch lands and wilderness 60 miles north of Los Angeles, in exchange for rights to develop 10 percent of its land holdings.
"Almost 90 percent of one of Southern California's best-known ranches - long the property of one of the state's best-known newspaper families - will be kept permanently free of development under the terms of a deal announced on Thursday between the ranch corporation and five major conservation organizations.
"This is the Holy Grail of conservation in California," said Joel Reynolds of the Natural Resources Defense Council. Bill Corcoran, the senior regional representative of the Sierra Club, added that the property, known as the Tejon Ranch, which reaches from the firs of the southern Sierra Nevada across the dry Tehachapi Mountains and west to the coastal range, "is the keystone for protecting Southern California's natural legacy."
In return for the commitment to allow easements on roughly 240,000 acres, the groups, including the Sierra Club, Audubon California and the Natural Resources Defense Council, will give up their opposition to industrial, resort and residential development on another 30,000 acres near Interstate 5.
The agreement brings to an end a standoff between Tejon Ranch, a publicly traded company formed after the Chandler family heirs, onetime owners of The Los Angeles Times, sold the land more than a decade ago, and conservation groups that wanted to prevent the ranchland, with its varied ecosystems, from becoming part of the sprawl of greater Los Angeles."