Mitigation Bank Preserves Historic Cattle Ranch


Sacramento, Calif. — Stan Van Vleck, owner and operator of 150 year-old Van Vleck Ranch, has spent years struggling to maintain a historic cattle operation in the face of modern economic pressures. Inheritance and transfer taxes, rising property taxes, and encroachment by urban development has threatened the ranch’s operational outlook.

As opposed to selling his ranch to residential developers, Van Vleck sold rights to a conservation easement to Westevelt Ecological Services (WES), allowing him to continue grazing cattle on the site while providing additional revenues for repaying taxes and distribution to other family members. WES, a habitat mitigation company based in Sacramento, established a mitigation bank approved for selling credits for vernal pool creation and preservation, and Swainson’s hawk.

A formal mitigation bank is a site approved to provide mitigation by environmental regulatory agencies such as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and California Department of Fish and Game. This bank was the first mitigation bank approved in northern California under the new federal Wetlands Compensatory Mitigation Rule established to increase mitigation standards, and the new interagency mitigation banking template designed to improve coordination between agencies in establishing these sites.

Mitigation banks provide enhanced environmental benefit over smaller, piecemeal mitigation, with inherent biological, financial and legal assurances to ensure mitigation success. Economic advantages to public and private sector developers include economies of scale, reduced permitting time and costs, and severance of liability.

Despite the housing market decline in Sacramento County, a substantial need for the relatively scarce vernal pool creation mitigation credits remains.For additional information on credit sales, please contact Travis Hemmen, Business and Market Development Director, at [email protected], or