West Walker River ranch land donation extends conservation area | NevadaAppeal.com

West Walker River ranch land donation extends conservation area

Record-Courier staff report
Bistate sage grouse.
Joe Kiesecker | Nature Conservancy

A Disney executive and his wife are part owners of a West Walker River ranch that has donated a 605-acre conservation easement to The Nature Conservancy.

According to a statement issued by the Conservancy on Monday, the donor is West Walker Partners, which is owned by the A&C Horn Trust and the James S. and Denise L. Taylor Family Trust. A conservation easement is a tool that prevents inappropriate development by voluntarily limiting some uses on private land in order to protect its natural values.

The Wade-Fernley property straddles the West Walker River for approximately one mile. The area provides habitat for local and migratory species including greater sage grouse, Lahontan cutthroat trout, osprey, golden eagle, great blue heron, bobcat and monarch butterfly. The floodplain has maintained much of its natural function which supports groundwater recharge during heavy rains and directs damaging floods.

The West Walker River flows through southern Douglas County from Topaz Lake into Lyon County.

“This easement marks another conservation milestone that benefits both nature and people,” says Duane Petite, the Conservancy’s Carson River program director, “because a healthy environment supports a healthy economy.”

Alan Horn is chairman of Disney Studios.

“Alan and I are very pleased to be able to continue protecting this very unique watershed in cooperation with The Nature Conservancy,” said owner Cindy Harrell-Horn.

The property is adjacent to and directly downstream of the Horn’s previously protected Fairfield Ranch. Together, they permanently protect four miles of the river and more than 4,400 acres.

The Nevada Department of Wildlife considers both properties important summer and winter habitat for the distinct bistate (Nevada and California) population of the greater sage grouse. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recently proposed the Bi-State sage grouse for threatened status under the Endangered Species Act.

“The service applauds our bi-state partners who have consistently demonstrated their vision and support on the ground to implement these types of successful projects, not only for sage grouse, but for all the other species that share the crucial wet meadows,” says Mary Grim, regional sage-grouse coordinator, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Region 8.

This easement will help protect critical habitat for the iconic bird, a focus of many people across the state. The Conservancy — along with many partners — is designing and implementing an action plan to proactively conserve habitat for the Bi-State species.

For more information about The Nature Conservancy visit nature.org/nevada.