Conservation Significance of Tejon Ranch: A Biogeographic Crossroads
Tejon Ranch is one of California’s most precious natural areas—a haven for rare and endangered species, a sanctuary for the soul of ancient California, a treasure that, through the years, has not escaped the wonderment of ranchers, hunters, wildlife enthusiasts, and scientists. This is a place through which thousands of people drive daily, but few have really seen; where one can visualize the dramatic geologic processes that shaped California's landscape and influenced the evolutionary history of California's diverse flora and fauna. In this place, California condors still fly, centuries-old oaks still flourish, and streams are born. Perhaps most remarkably, virtues of this place have not yet been compromised by the urban sprawl that is rapidly devouring so much of California's natural landscape.
Tejon Ranch, 270,000 acres of southern Kern and northern Los Angeles counties, is the largest, contiguous, privately owned property in California. Owners of the Ranch are currently planning large-scale residential and industrial developments in what is now a largely undeveloped and natural landscape. Concerned that these development plans might severely compromise the Ranch's ecological integrity before the public has had an opportunity to understand its significance, Environment Now and a coalition of environmental groups commissioned the Conservation Biology Institute to assess the regional and statewide value of Tejon Ranch for conservation of biological diversity. Through the course of this assessment, we have come to recognize what others have already suggested—that Tejon Ranch is truly one of California’s most priceless natural areas, unparalleled in its diversity of natural resources and its importance to conservation, and meeting all of the State’s criteria for a priority conservation target.
This report shares our synthesis of publicly available information—documenting the biogeographic importance of the Tejon Ranch region, revealing the values of the region's natural resources, and identifying factors that threaten these values. This report does not advocate any specific open space design, but rather it illuminates the extraordinary values and regionally under-protected resources of the Ranch so that the public and decision-makers are fully aware of their importance in future land planning decisions. We hope that this information will be used as a basis for comprehensive, rather than piecemeal, land use planning of Tejon Ranch.
CBI Authors & Contributors
Jerre Ann Stallcup, M.A.
Chief Resources Officer