Over 9,200 acres of farmland placed into permanent conservation easement by nation's largest grower of peaches, plums and nectarines and among the leaders in table grapes

Creating a landmark legacy, Gerawan Farming has forever protected over 9,200 acres (more than 14 square miles) of fertile farmland in California's San Joaquin Valley. The Gerawan Family, farmers for nearly three-quarters of a century, has voluntarily placed this actively farmed land into a permanent agricultural conservation easement. The easement will be administered by the Wildlife Heritage Foundation, a non-profit, public-benefit land trust located in Lincoln, Calif., and accredited by the Land Trust Alliance.

"Completing an agricultural conservation easement of this magnitude for actively farmed high quality ag land, as opposed to grazing lands, is monumental," stated Patrick J. Shea, Ph.D., Executive Director of the Wildlife Heritage Foundation. "Our organization was very fortunate to be selected to be part of this historic easement as this is the largest known agricultural easement of its kind in the state. Agricultural easements, such as this one, are very important to an overall conservation program. Furthermore, an easement of this size will make a historic difference for the agricultural landscape of the area known as 'the nation's food basket.'"

The California Department of Conservation defines an agricultural conservation easement as "a voluntary, legally recorded deed restriction that is placed on a specific property used for agricultural production." Traditionally, landowners place agricultural conservation easements on their property to ensure that agricultural lands remain in active production. This removes development pressures from the land and prohibits practices that could damage or interfere with the agricultural use of the land. The easement, a restriction on the deed of the property, remains in effect even when the land changes ownership.

Of the over 9,200 acres selected and placed into the conservation easement by the Gerawan Family, approximately 7,000 acres are located on the Gerawan's "West Side" ranches, located west of Fresno and south of the town of Kerman. The remaining 2,200+ acres, known as the Family's "River Bottom" ranches, are located east of Sanger and north of Reedley. These ranches are along the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountain range and adjacent to the Sierra Gateway Scenic Highway 180. Many of the "River Bottom" ranches are contiguous to the renowned Fresno County Blossom Trail which is enjoyed each spring by visitors from throughout the nation.