Conservation Easement at Winje's Farm Conservation Easement

February 20, 2010

Will there be assistance for our proposed public access

Filed under: Uncategorized — rnwinje @ 7:04 am

through our search to find a way of creating a public access along our south boundary, next to the creek, Graham sent this information.

OPEN FIELDS: NOT NECESSARILY ON THE EDGE

Our regular readers may remember our past coverage of “Open Fields,” a new element in the most recent Farm Bill intended to increase public access on private lands. To see this item from last November, check:
www.refugenet.org/birding/novSBC08.html#TOC06

Formally known as the Voluntary Public Access and Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program (VPA), Open Fields is going to be funded to the tune of $50 million over four years to enhance or create public access for wildlife-dependent recreation through grants to states (and tribal governments).

Somewhat confusingly, the Bush Administration announced a program last October to open lands to the public under the Conservation Reserve Program (and using current CRP dollars) for “hunting, fishing, bird-watching, and other recreational activities.” This CRP public access incentive would provide an additional $3 per acre to CRP participants that open their CRP lands to the public (limited to the 21 states already with public access programs) over five years and with a ceiling of seven million acres.

The Obama Administration’s 2010 budget has moved to discontinue this second CRP program, while supporting the Open Fields-VPA effort. This has created some confusion among supporters of public access, because the two programs often get confused, and because on the surface it appears that the administration is pulling away from funding for public access efforts.

Seemingly, there should be more interest in expanding and supporting the Open Fields effort; however, there are three potential problems: 1) the Farm Services Agency (FSA) has yet to publish a program rule and define the selection criteria for grant proposals, 2) frequently too little is known about these public access programs, especially outside the 21 states with current programs, and 3) the existing dedication to Open Fields is coming mainly from concerned hunting and fishing interests, and not the vocal hiking, wildlife photography, and birding constituency, suggesting that it is a narrower issue than it is.

February 18, 2010

Easement boundary points

Filed under: Uncategorized — rnwinje @ 7:58 am

With some back and forth the instructions for setting boundary post on the easement get clear enough to start.

March 20th, 2009 Bill Price wrote:

Hi Matt. I understand you folks are pointing toward Russ Winje’s place the first week of April. Russ will need 21 of those signs to put on the metal posts (these are the round posts under the old rules).

Also, please advise as to how close the posts should be to the survey pins. I am guessing about 1 foot away. I suggest we put them all on the same side, such as on the south. Do you have any advice for us on this point?

March 25th, Matt wrote:

I have requested the signs, and they will come with directions.

March 25th Bill wrote:

Hi Matt. Is there any way we can get the instructions now? We need to have all the posts set before the field inspection in early April. They are sitting in Russ’s barn awaiting the instructions. As soon as we get those, we can start building them. If we have to wait, they might not be ready in time for the inspection.

February 17, 2010

2009 rolls around and the survey moves from the ground to paper

Filed under: Uncategorized — rnwinje @ 7:27 am

January 5th, 2009 Bill Price writes:

Hi Russ and Matt. Attached is a diagram for the Winje Conservation Easement. Modoc Title has one of the original legal description, David Rexroat has the other.

As I understand the following are the steps that need to be completed, in order:
1) Russ Winje and Matt Drechsel will review and approve the diagram
2) Modoc Title will prepare an updated Title Report to include the NE1/4 of the NW1/4, as well as the documents the Winjes need to sign (this should be a work in progress right now).
3) After item 1) above is complete, Matt Drechsel will notify me to set the corners and finish the final plats (completion of phase II, in other words).

Matt wrote:

I have reviewed the Diagram, and everything seems to be in order and what I expected.

Bill, with Hy’s blessing, I am all in favor of you setting the corners and finishing the final plat.

Thanks,
Matt

February 15, 2010

We signed the option to purchase easement agreement. Yet another step forward.

Filed under: Uncategorized — rnwinje @ 6:37 am

August 20th Matt wrote:

I have forwarded your question on to Jessica about the timing of payment, but it is my understanding that between the survey, title search, etc… that we will be looking at spring to close.

August 30th things started to move ahead quickly as the Surveyor, Bill Price, writes:

I can come out tomorrow to survey. Will you be around? I need you to show me that piece you want excluded from the NRCS survey. They took my bid, and say they are sending a contract.

November 3rd Graham wrote:

I just spoke with Jessica Groves and it sounds like your WRP application continues to move forward and could be completed within six months.

December 3rd Matt wrote:

I just got off the phone with Lori, and the document she has is just preliminary.  Once the final documentation comes in from Bill, and the NRCS office in Davis approve it, Lori’s information will be updated to match.  The preliminary boundary line with Modoc Title is not an issue.  The agreement between NRCS and Russ, states that the area east of County Rd 1, owned by Russ and Jan Winje is the accepted WRP offering minus the public access area.  This area is shown on the preliminary map (still shows the public access as part of the easement) and has been provided to Russ and Bill.  The survey will be on that area agreed to.

February 13, 2010

Ownership qualifications

Filed under: Uncategorized — rnwinje @ 7:45 am

July 30th, 2008 Loren wrote:

The new farmbill will require all applicants to have owned the property for
more the 7 years prior to submission under the same company or name. There
are some new requirements for gross income that will most likely not affect
you but they reduced them to 1 million per year from non ag income from the
original 2.5 million. These are a few of the examples I was talking about.
I think we will be fine either way but, its a timing thing as far as this
year or having to wait for next year and new rules.

Then August 4th Loren wrote in response to the my questions about what we can expect to be required to do with any left over monies from the WRP:

You will have to ask Jessica directly but, for the FWS easements you can
spend the money as you want.  taxes are ususally the biggest concern for
many but, thats something to work out with your tax advisor.  you do not
have to save the money or put any towards it (easement) as far as I know.

February 12, 2010

Details of our rating come through with us at the top of the list

Filed under: Uncategorized — rnwinje @ 5:24 pm

July 29th, 2008 Loren wrote:

Good to hear from you. Well as you may have heard we had the partnership
meeting in davis a couple of weeks ago and you are now at the top of the
list with a very good score. I think you should expect to see Jessica at
NRCS call with a number for the easement value very soon if she has not
already. They are working on a new apprasial process that will take comp
sales of the area and use the number to offer you an easement. This is
very good for you and speeds up the process compared to the last several
years. I think the number you will be offered is in the range you
described to us last year but, lets here it from Jessica for sure. Once
the easement value is accepted by you the project planning can begin. This
will be joint between the partners NRCS, FWS, Audobon that will have time
and money towards it. All said the time this takes can vary but, one thing
is for sure Jessica must spend the money within the next couple months so
if you want to get in on what I perceive to be the easy way let her know
how committed you are when she calls and assure her that the money can be
put to good use on your ranch. She is in a time crunch and is looking for
sure thing projects and I have assured her of your commitment. If we miss
this cycle I am worried about some of the new requirement of the Farmbill
about ownership and some other items but, it will still be workable just
take longer to get done. I hope we can make this happen for you and all
the wildlife that visit your ranch. Talk to you soon.

Loren

Loren Ruport
Private Lands Manager
Klamath Basin NWRC

February 11, 2010

Farm bill passes and the process goes back to ranking projects state wide.

Filed under: Uncategorized — rnwinje @ 7:16 am

June 13th, 2008 Graham wrote:

Dear Russell — Just an FYI, but your project will be reviewed and ranked among other projects in the state at the July 2nd meeting. You can’t attend the meeting, but Audubon will be there to advocate for the project.

July 1st Graham wrote:

Russell and Jan — Your project is entering the review with a high score and I expect that it will do well. I will update you once I learn a little more. Best, Graham

July 17th Graham wrote:

Russell – Here is the report from the Audubon staffer who attended the WRP meeting in Davis on July 2nd. Good news though there is still lots of work ahead to bring the project to completion. Graham

With letter from Chris Rose:

Hey Graham,
I attended the WRP meeting on the 2nd and it was indicated by the funding list that was produced that the Winje site will be funded by the WRP. Jessica Groves, the State Wetland Biologist is very excited about the project.
Thanks,
Chris Rose
Senior Habitat Restorationist
Audubon California Landowner Stewardship Program

February 10, 2010

Hurry up and wait

Filed under: Uncategorized — rnwinje @ 6:52 am

Months go by as the Farm Bill is slowly moving toward passing. With little bits of encouragement from the agencies, we carry on with business as usual. March 8th, 2008 we spot a huge flock of white birds and geese in the meadow and go to check it out.
The next day I wrote to Graham:

“Yesterday we noticed a huge flock of white birds mixed with geese and sandhill crane down in our meadow. Walking along the creek behind the cover of willows and trees we made it into the meadow close enough to get some pictures of swan, geese, sandhill and deer enjoying the abundance of water flowing from Miller Creek.”

February 9, 2010

Months latter the ranking put us in the top 20% state wide

Filed under: Uncategorized — rnwinje @ 8:10 am

November 13th, 2007 Matt wrote:

Your application is in the running for this years funding. We will have
to see what the rest of the state has for applications, but yours should
compete fairly well.

Matt

Then on January 11th, 2008 Matt wrote to Steve Clay:

I am glad you got a hold of me. I am submitting final papers to the
NRCS State Office (Jessica Groves), and need a signature from you on the
Winje application. We still do not have a farm bill to give us money
for WRP, but when we get it, Winje’s application will rank well. I am
proceeding like we will get money soon for this project, and would like
to tie up loose ends soon. I am in Adin today, but would like to get
the signature from you soon, this week or at our meeting on Tuesday.

Thanks,
Matt

On February 12, 2008 Graham wrote:

Dear Russell — Earlier today I met with Jessica and Alan Forkey. Jessica reported having received the revised ranking as a part of the package and said that the project ranked in the top 20% in California.

There will be numerous steps to move it forward and I won’t expect anything until later this year or 2009.

Look forward to continuing to work with you, Jan and others on this project.

Graham

February 8, 2010

Audubon gives an official letter stating their position.

Filed under: Uncategorized — rnwinje @ 7:31 am

October 30th, 2007 Graham wrote:

Attached is a copy of Audubon California’s letter of support for the Winje WRP Project based on our last site visit. Audubon California would like to partner on the project and is will to provide a financial contribution toward the project.

The letter reads:

On behalf of Audubon California I would like to express our strong support for the application for a Wetland Reserve Project conservation easement on the property owned by Russell and Jan Winje north of Lake City, California. The project offers an excellent opportunity to restore both the hydrology to wetlands and to restore a stream channel and associated riparian habitat on portions of the property. Audubon California would like to be a partner with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) on this proposed project and would be willing to contribute up to $20,000 toward the acquisition of a perpetual conservation easement.

The property lies within Audubon California’s identified Surprise Valley Important Bird area and we have confirmed the presence of a number of bird species on the Winje’s property, including Sandhill Crane (nesting) and Long-billed Curlew. In addition, the property links with the Upper Alkali Lake which provides excellent habitat for Western Snowy Plover, America Avocet, Black-necked Stilt. Finally, restoring wetlands on the Winje’s property would also provide nesting and foraging habitat for a number of dabbling duck species and other waterbirds.

We look forward to working with NRCS on this project. Please let me know if you have any questions. Thank you.

Sincerely,

Graham Chisholm
Deputy State Director & Conservation Director

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