Important Bird Areas

Tejon Ranch: Protecting a California treasure

After striking a landmark agreement to safeguard one of California's greatest natural treasures in 2008, Audubon California continues its involvement to ensure its lasting protection.

Audubon California in 2008 brokered a precedent-setting agreement to protect up to 240,000 contiguous acres of spectacular and ecologically significant California wildlands of the Tejon Ranch. The agreement -- between Audubon California, five other environmental groups, and the Tejon Ranch Company -- will ultimately protect approximately 90 percent of Tejon’s rich natural habitat from development and open new opportunities for Californians to enjoy this tremendous landscape firsthand.

Photo: Kristi Patterson

Tejon Ranch encompasses more of California’s natural beauty and diversity than any undeveloped area of the state. Located at the junction of the Mojave Desert and the Sierra Nevada, central and coastal mountains, the enormous parcel is home to precious native grasslands, oak woodlands, Joshua tree woodlands and conifer forests. It is home to the endangered California Condor and more than two dozen state and federally listed plant and animal species.

Audubon California continues to work closely with the Tejon Ranch Conservancy to implement facets of the agreement. We are also bringing groups of young people from as far away as Los Angeles to experience the beauty of the landscape.

Students from the Audubon Center at Debs Park visit Tejon
Students from the Audubon Center at Debs Park visit Tejon Ranch.

The agreement puts in place:

  • Permanent Conservation – Safeguards 240,000 acres, including 178,000 acres through an enforceable conservation easement and dedicated open space, as well as the option to purchase an additional 62,000 acres.
  • Governance and Funding – Establishes an independent Tejon Ranch Conservancy to manage and restore landscape, monitor the conservation easements, and provide for public access. The agreement also provides it with a permanent funding source through a transfer tax on lots and homes sold and resold on the ranch.
  • Public Access – Thirty-seven miles of the Pacific Crest Trail will be realigned in order to allow hikers to cross the Tejon Ranch. The agreement also commits all parties to work together to establish a state park on a portion of the ranch, and the Tejon Ranch Conservancy will manage a public access program.
  • Agreement – Audubon California and its partners agree not to oppose three development projects on 10 percent of the Tejon Ranch. These developments will still be subject to public review and applicable federal and state environmental protection laws.

In addition to the California Condor, the Tejon Ranch is home to up to 17 bird species of concern to Audubon, including Golden Eagle, Spotted Owl, Purple Martin, Willow Flycatcher, and Tricolored Blackbird. The scale of this agreement is likely to attract a great deal of attention beyond California’s borders.

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