Jacks Valley Ranch up for conservation

A harrowbed picks up three-string bales on John Ascuaga's Ranch in July 2013.

A harrowbed picks up three-string bales on John Ascuaga's Ranch in July 2013.

More than 1,230 acres of conservation easement on Jacks Valley Ranch, located at the base of the Sierra, has been recommended for purchase in the latest round of a federal program to preserve environmentally sensitive land.

Long owned by John and Rose Ascuaga, the ranch land west of Jacks Valley Road is home to 2,377 acre feet of water rights a year.

If approved, the easement could be purchased for $12.4 million by Nevada Day 2017.

Ranching would continue on the property, which was nominated by The Conservation Fund and the Nevada Land Trust.

Nevada Land Trust Executive Director Alicia Reban said her organization has been talking to John Ascuaga for more than a year.

“We came to appreciate his dedication to the kind of legacy he’s seeking to create and the resources he has taken such good care of all these years,” she said.

The nomination was completed under tight deadline pressures.

“Round 16 was very compressed,” she said. “We worked so hard with the family to create a very comprehensive nomination. This is a really important wildlife corridor. We had to bring in some consultants to really make sure we had very good data and could make a solid case.”

The Ascuagas are in their 90s, and there’ss the possibility the ranch could change hands in the next few years, be subdivided and sold off, if it wasn’t preserved.

Under the proposal, The Conservation Fund would pre-aquire the conservation easement by the end of this year and then sell the easement to the U.S. Forest Service using funding from the Southern Nevada Public Lands Management Act.

The groups report they have committed significant resources to complete this transaction, including paying for necessary biological and cultural surveys, water rights assessments, title work and completion of the package.

Jacks Valley Ranch is home to 737 acres of irrigated pastures, six acres of ponds and wetlands, 377 acres of mixed conifer forest and 111 acres of sage and bitter brush.

The land lies between the National Forest and the Jacks Valley Wildlife Management Area.

There are two 150-year-old barns on the property. The ranch has nearly two miles of frontage on three streams, including Water Canyon, Jacks Valley Creek and Chedle Creek.

An underground fuel storage tank was removed by the owner, but there wasn’t testing to see if it had leaked. There are three other tanks that also require examination, according to the nomination document.

Selling a permanent conservation easement allows for preservation of the ranch at half to three-quarters fair market value. It also keeps the ranch on the county tax roles, in addition to allowing continued ranching.

According to the Nevada Department of Wildlife, the property is home to a variety of wild species, including black bear, mule deer and mountain lions.

“A conservation easement will maintain the important habitats found on the property and continue to support the many species,” Nevada Department of Wildlife Director Tony Wasley wrote.

If successful, the easement would be managed by the U.S. Forest Service.

The public comment period on the nomination began Wednesday and will be open through July 28.

To comment, write the SNPLMA Executive Committee Chair, BLM Southern Nevada District Office, 4701 N. Torrey Pines Drive, Las Vegas, NV 89130, by fax to the attention of the SNPLMA Executive Committee Chair at (702) 515-5110, or by email to snplma@blm.gov.

Not recommended in the 16th round for funding is a proposal for land owned by the Parks surrounding the Dangberg Home Ranch.

This is the second year in which a large parcel of Douglas County land has been recommended for purchase.

Last year a section of Bently land located in the Pine Nuts in far northern Douglas County was approved for purchase.


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