California Conservation Success Stories

Browse our Growing Library of Success Stories

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


Red Rock Ranch


Red Rock RanchJohn Diener’s Red Rock Ranch consists of approximately 5,000 acres in Fresno County. He farms an array of high value row crops, using innovative approaches to land, water, and wildlife management.


Sierra Orchards


Sierra OrchardsCraig McNamara’s 450-acre Sierra Orchards is a diversified farming operation that includes field, processing, and marketing operations and produces organic walnuts and grape rootstock. Sierra Orchards is proof that an agricultural operation is able to be green without going into the red.


Thomson International, Inc.


Thomson International, Inc.Jeff Thomson’s great-grandfather, C.B. Crawford, began farming near his 160-acre homestead in 1888. After the farm’s water source ran dry, he became a market duck hunter on Jerry Slough, 40 miles west of Bakersfield. With money saved from duck sales, C.B. bought several farming parcels that are still farmed by the Thomson family today.


Three Creeks Ranch


Three Creeks RanchChet Vogt’s Three Creeks Ranch in Glenn County is a 5,300 acre 500 cow/calf operation. The core of Chet’s holistic approach to ranching is intensive managed grazing, which rotates the cattle among 32 fenced paddocks.


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.


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.


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.”


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.”


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.