The Nature Conservancy worked with the Gaumer family to protect their 8,455-acre ranch in the Deer Creek watershed. Nearly two miles of Deer Creek run through the Tehama County ranch, supporting three runs of endangered wild Chinook salmon and steelhead trout. The ranch enhances a corridor of 15 miles of protected land running from the valley floor near the Sacramento River to the foothills of the Cascade Mountains at the Lassen National Forest boundary.
“If you drive from Red Bluff all the way down to Bakersfield, it’s the only area that is entirely dark at night from the valley up to the mountains,” noted Jake Jacobson, The Nature Conservancy’s Lassen Foothills project director.
The forests, meadows and canyons of the Lassen Foothills are home to iconic California species, from threatened blue oaks, tundra swans and yellow-legged frogs, to the largest migratory deer herd in California.
Protecting Habitat and a Way of Life
Conservancy representatives initially met the Gaumer family several years ago at meetings of the Deer Creek Watershed Conservancy. “We got to know them over time, and we learned that we shared a lot of the same goals,” said Jacobson.
The Gaumer family — three brothers and their wives — are third-generation ranchers, and the Gaumer ranch has been a working cattle ranch for more than 100 years. The terms of the conservation easement, acquired by the Conservancy in 2011, restricts future activities on the land, such as development or subdivision, to protect its conservation features; the Gaumer family and any future owners will be able to continue ranching.
Jacobson praised the Gaumers: “The Gaumer family has made a decision that this land will continue to look as it has for a hundred years. They’ll still be grazing cattle, and there will still be streams for salmon and wide open spaces for wildlife.”