Placer Land Trust teams with pioneer Oest ranching family to protect 160 acres of land

Clipper Gap area ranchland to be preserved as agricultural conservation easement
By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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AUBURN CA - Daryl Oest’s great-grandfather found a future in the 1850s raising cattle on the outskirts of Auburn and his descendents are taking steps with the aid of the Placer Land Trust to preserve ranchland that has been worked for generations.

The Auburn-based land trust has partnered with the Oest family to permanently protect another portion of the historic Oest ranch.

Last week, as part of its new small farm program, the trust registered an agricultural conservation easement on 160-acres now to be called the Oest Ranch Cold Springs Preserve.

The land will continue to be used as a cattle ranch, with the land trust conducting a yearly evaluation to ensure that is so. The Oests previously placed an agricultural easement on a 350-acre parcel near Lake Clementine and Daryl Oest said that initial arrangement has worked well.

“It’s been relatively easy,” Oest said. “There are usually details to iron out but they’ve been very cooperative in every respect to accommodate what we want.”

The Cold Springs Preserve is less than a mile from the Lake Clementine Preserve, upstream on Clipper Creek. The trust and Oests have now protected 510 acres for continued agricultural use.

“My family has had livestock grazing on our ranch for several generations now,” Oest said. “Times being tough, we were looking for options to help us preserve the land, and the people, because we want the land to stay in our family.”

Clipper Creek flows through the middle of the property on its way to the American River.
The Oests are a pioneering Placer family that has been farming and ranching in the Auburn area since the Gold Rush and there are no plans to stop any time soon. Last year, at the California State Fair, the Oests were recognized by the California Agricultural Heritage Club for more than 150 years of agricultural operations in Placer County.

Primary project funding was provided by the private Emigrant Trails Greenway Trust. Ongoing stewardship funding support came from the California Wildlife Foundation, as well as a donation from the Oests themselves.

Jeff Darlington, land trust executive director, said the project protects a personal and physical connection to the land.

“The Oests have been excellent caretakers of this land for generations, and this easement will help them continue that legacy for generations to come.”

In addition to agricultural values, the preserve contains Maidu milling sites, prime oak woodland and riparian habitat for a number of wildlife species.

As well as beef production, the Cold Springs Preserve also provides a home for bees producing honey.