Conservation easement sought for 1,200 acres near Beale
More than 1,200 acres near Beale Air Force Base could be made part of a conservation easement, preventing the land from being developed and meeting a goal of both base leaders and the county's General Plan.
The Trust for Public Land has begun the first steps to put 1,227 acres under such status with the county's Department of Parks and Community Services, though the money to actually acquire the land is still to be found.
Markley Bavinger, a project manager with the not-for-profit TPL, said the move is still in the early stages, and as a result she couldn't specify exactly where the land is relative to the base.
"We're pretty much laying groundwork right now," she said. "As it moves forward, I think it's a story we want to talk about."
Once an easement is established, the land would be used primarily as it is now: for cattle grazing. It now is similar to much of what surrounds Beale — slightly hilly and dotted with trees.
The Trust for Public Land has already been involved with similar land transfers around Beale, most notably in helping coordinate acquisition of 850 acres from what would have been the Yuba Highlands housing project.
Bavinger said the remainder of the project's 2,500 acres is also slated to eventually be preserved as open space, but the 1,277 acres moving through county channels now are not part of that.
At Beale, the chief of asset management for a civil engineer flight squadron said that setting land around the base aside from development is seen as a long-term goal.
Working under the Readiness and Environmental Protection Initiative, the base's efforts to create a buffer also helps local jurisdictions create open space, said Joni Gerry of Beale.
"If we can provide the landowner with some kind of benefit and some kind of easement, we avoid that encroachment," she said, explaining certain kinds of training, or just day-to-day aircraft maneuvers, might otherwise disturb someone who's bought a new home within a mile or so of the base.
She added that funding to make such land transactions is always an issue, particularly the need for matching local funds. "But it's not an eminent domain action," she said. "It's a partnership."
The land transfer is being processed by Yuba County, though Bavinger said it is not clear how soon the money will be available to finalize it. "We'd want to see this happen in the next couple of years," she said.
Because the county General Plan update adopted last year has a stipulation for open space in the county's natural resource areas, such a transfer should be straightforward, said Kevin Mallen, the county's community services and development director.
CONTACT Ben van der Meer at firstname.lastname@example.org or 749-4786. Find him on Facebook at /ADbvandermeer or on Twitter at @ADbvandermeer.