California Conservation Success Stories

Browse our Growing Library of Success Stories

Hugh Hammond Bennett: The Story of America’s Private Lands Conservation Movement


This video is the story of a young scientist, Hugh Hammond Bennett, who recognized 80 years ago that the United States was at risk of losing it’s most important resource – its soil. He made it his mission to change the trajectory of agriculture at a time of great crisis and to provide farmers and ranchers with the information and tools they needed to be sustainable.

This 21 minute video is the story of the conservation movement that Hugh Hammond Bennett began and includes interesting insights into the policies and structures that he set up that we continue to rely on today. His work revealed so much of what we’re rediscovering and renaming as “regenerative agriculture.”


Half Circle Cross Ranch


For Colby and McKenzie Pace, raising beef cattle includes keeping a sharp eye on preventing overgrazing and noxious weeds and seeking out ways to improve their land for nesting and migrating shorebirds.  This forward-thinking approach to livestock and wildlife management earned the Coalville couple — and their Half Circle Cross Ranch — the 2020 Utah Leopold Conservation Award.


Healthy and Fire-Resilient Forests with the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation


This video from Washington Policy Center with cooperation from the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, sheds light on how the tribes manage forests to be more healthy using commercial harvests, thinnings, and controlled burns to deal with the pressures of insect infestation, climate change, and decades of fire suppression.


John Nedrow is a big believer in conservation easements – they saved his family farm


Before knowing much about land trusts, Ashton farmer John Nedrow thought they were some kind of sinister force seeking to take over his farm and force landowners off their property.

“Back then, I thought they were the enemy,” Nedrow said in an interview on his alfalfa and malt-barley farm, which straddles the banks of the famed Henrys Fork River, a blue-ribbon trout stream. “I thought they wanted to turn this whole area into national park.”


When Conservation Happens Collaboratively


When Heather Dutton, fresh out of undergraduate school at the Warner College of Natural Resources and graduate school in the College of Agriculture at Colorado State University, began her first job working for a non-profit river restoration organization in the San Luis Valley, she was thrilled. She also felt confident that her technical training in restoration ecology had prepared her for the challenges she’d soon be facing.

Heather was in for a surprise.


Craig and Conni French always considered themselves good land stewards

Their introduction to holistic ranch management techniques called into question long-held, traditional ways of thinking. The drastic changes that followed required a leap of faith for the fourth-generation ranchers. They traded harvesting hay for grazing methods that let their cattle harvest the forage themselves. Such changes didn’t happen overnight, and each came with its own risk and learning curve.


Brown’s Ranch in North Dakota: Guided by the “divine”


Like almost everyone else in his rural community, Gabe had been farming and ranching using conventional methods since purchasing his Brown’s Ranch from the parents of his wife Shelly in 1991. Possibly because he had not grown up on a farm, Gabe found that he was constantly asking the question, “why do we do things this way?”


The Roots of the General Mills Regenerative Agriculture Program


The nonprofit Soil Health Academy (SHA) is just one of many initiatives spawned by regenerative agriculture guru Gabe Brown in collaboration with additional expert partners. SHA holds regenerative agriculture workshops around the country that are open to anyone who’s interested, and they are routinely sold out.


Florida Partnership Enables Landscape-Level Prescribed Burn


On March 2, 2018, a large prescribed burn occurred at the Yellow River Water Management Area in Santa Rosa County, Florida, which is managed by the Northwest Florida Water Management District. Weather and atmospheric conditions were ideal and resources were available for the Florida Forest Service to approve the burn permit. Aerial ignition via helicopter started the fire systematically across the landscape. Ground firing and monitoring crews, consisting of 15 personnel were stationed at the tract perimeter as ground support during the burn.


Prescribed Fire Program Reduces Wildfire Severity


Over four long days in late March 2011, the most severe wildfire outbreak in a decade occurred at Eglin Air Force Base, located near Destin, Florida (Fig. 1). A persistent drought, 20 mph winds and low humidity, combined with 12-15 arson fires on the property, resulted in 6,000 acres burned in a matter of days. Due to Eglin’s aggressive prescribed fire program, the March 2011 wildfire severity and acres burned were significantly reduced. Without this regular fuel reduction, anywhere from 10-12,000 acres could have burned just on the Eglin side, with untold acres burned and property damaged north of Interstate 10.


Creating a Fire Resilient Landscape in the Pisgah National Forest


On July 14, 2015, a lightning strike ignited a wildfire on Bald Knob in the Grandfather Ranger District (GRD) of the Pisgah National Forest. Only 30 miles outside of Asheville, North Carolina and on rugged terrain difficult to access, the wildfire may have posed greater threat had it not been adjacent to areas containing recent fuel treatments (prescribed fire) and wildfires. These treatments, as part of the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program (CFLRP), reduced fire fuel loads in the forest and enabled the Bald Knob fire to safely burn while protecting firefighters, local residents, structures, power line corridors, communication towers, and Forest Service property and surrounding land. Fuel treatments positively influenced the fire’s spread and allowed firefighting efforts to truly focus on protection of private properties. The inaccessible terrain as well as the confine and contain strategy allowed ample time to keep the effected community well informed of current fire behavior, smoke impacts and management plans for the fire.


Full Belly Farm


Full Belly FarmLocated northwest of Sacramento, Full Belly Farm is co-owned by Andrew Brait, Paul Muller, Judith Redmond and Dru Rivers. They began farming together in the 1980’s when many farms were failing and there was no established organic produce marketing system.


Giacomazzi Dairy


Giacomazzi DairyDino Giacomazzi is a fourth-generation dairy farmer whose farm is comprised of 900 dairy cows on 900 acres in Hanford where the farm has operated since 1893. Dino represents what it means to farm responsibly and sustainably, enhancing natural resources as part of his work.


Koopmann Ranch


Koopmann RanchTim Koopmann is a third generation rancher who owns and operates an 850 acre cow-calf operation in Sunol. The Koopmanns’ ranch is an agricultural gem surrounded by development.


Lange Twins Wine Estates


Lange Twins Wine EstatesBrad and Randy Lange are third-generation winegrape growers on their 6,500-acre Lange Twins Wine Estates vineyard near Lodi. The Langes have improved natural habitat on their property through restoration of a riparian area along the Mokelumne River and the implementation of unique, eco-friendly pest-control methods.


Lone Star Ranch


Lone Star RanchLocated near Eureka in Humboldt County, the 5,000-acre, fifth-generation Lone Star Ranch is a shining example of diversity and environmental stewardship. The ranch is owned by Mark and Dina Moore, who are both strong believers in voluntary conservation practices, often striving to exceed the minimum regulatory obligations to improve and sustain natural resources, wildlife and ecosystems. Their mission is to “leave a legacy of stewardship and long term financial security to the ranch and children”.


Lundberg Family Farms


Lundberg Family Farms The Lundberg family’s commitment to agricultural conservation can be traced back to the ravages of the Dust Bowl.


Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Company


Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese CompanyBob and Dean Giacomini purchased a dairy from Bob’s father and ran their fluid milk business while raising four daughters on the farm in coastal Marin County.


Montna Farms


Montna FarmsAl Montna, whose family has been farming in California since the late 1800s, has grown various crops through the years, such as peaches, prunes, wheat, and walnuts. Today, his Montna Farms consists of more than 2,500 acres of specialty short grain rice.


Prather Ranch


Prather RanchJim and Mary Rickert have worked in production agriculture all of their lives, developing a deep love for the land and wildlife on the many acres they manage. Hired in 1979 by the original owner of Prather Ranch, the Rickerts have responsibly managed the land and recently became majority owners. Under their care, Prather Ranch has grown from 3,000 acres of pasture, hay and timberland, to over 35,000 acres.