Tejon Ranch (TRC) will sell five conservation easements covering some 62,000 acres of the 270,000-acre property to the California Wildlife Conservation Board for $15.8 million. The transaction is yet another step by California’s largest private landowner to monetize remote areas of the ranch with little near-term development potential.
The following, more complete account of the transaction was posted at Tejon Ranch’s website:
Tejon Ranch Co. (NYSE: TRC) announced today the California Wildlife Conservation Board (WCB), has approved the purchase, for $15.8 million, of five conservation easements covering approximately 62,000 acres of land located on various portions of the 270,000 acre Tejon Ranch. This furthers the implementation of the historic Tejon Ranch Conservation and Land Use Agreement signed in 2008. The 62,000 acres is a component of the 240,000 acres designated for protection under the 2008 agreement.
The $15.8 million purchase price represents the conservation easement value for the acreage as determined by an independent appraisal directed by the WCB. The WCB, at its November 18, 2010 Board Meeting, accepted the appraisal and authorized the use of existing bond funds approved by California voters in 2006 under Proposition 84 to acquire the conservation easements. Tejon Ranch Co. will retain fee ownership of the 62,000 acres and continue to operate current revenue generating activities including farming, cattle grazing, filming, oil and gas and other mineral exploration and production on portions of the acreage. The conservation easements will preclude the Company from pursuing any long term development on the 62,000 acres. This transaction allows the Company to realize an immediate value, as opposed to what possibly could have been realized through development of those areas sometime in the distant future.
“The Wildlife Conservation Board’s action gives the Company an opportunity to monetize, in the near term, potential long-term value associated with these remote areas of the Ranch that have little, if any, near-term development potential,” said Michael H. Winer, Portfolio Manager for Third Avenue Management LLC, the Company’s largest shareholder, and member of the Tejon Ranch Co. Board of Directors. “Further, it will preserve in perpetuity the environmentally important values of these lands through the imposition of conservation easements, administered by the independent Tejon Ranch Conservancy.”
The 62,000 acres represents the total acreage of five separate acquisition areas negotiated as part of the 2008 Conservation and Land Use Agreement. In that Agreement, the Resource Groups: Audubon California, Endangered Habitats League, Natural Resources Defense Council, Planning and Conservation League, and the Sierra Club, were given an option to acquire conservation easements over those areas. This action today by the WCB fulfills that option. The remaining balance of the property protected by conservation easements as defined within the landmark Agreement, approximately 178,000 acres, will be dedicated by Tejon Ranch Co. to the Conservancy over the next several decades as the Company achieves entitlement and ultimately develops the communities of Tejon Mountain Village, Centennial and the future 12,400 acre planning area at the base of the Grapevine.
Robert A. Stine, President and CEO of Tejon Ranch Company, stated, “today’s action by the WCB is the culmination of a long process involving many entities who came to the table with a vision and desire to create a new way to resolve the competing interests of land development and environmental preservation. In that regard, I am grateful for the role our partner in Tejon Mountain Village, DMB Associates, and its CEO, Eneas Kane, played in assisting Tejon Ranch in achieving the landmark agreement, which today’s action by the WCB fully embraces. This action is a major positive step forward for our company and its shareholders. It allows us to continue current revenue generating operations; to realize current revenue from the sale of easements on longer term potential land development opportunities; and proceed with Tejon Mountain Village, Centennial and the 12,400 acre development opportunities at the base of the Grapevine. All of these actions will result in greater shareholder value. Further, this is a major milestone in preserving in perpetuity environmentally important property for future generations of Californians to enjoy.” Additional steps are required before the sale of the easements will close, including the filing of various public notices, the completion of title review and the execution of the Grant Agreement between the WCB and the Tejon Ranch Conservancy.