Holland & Knight Lawyers Negotiate Landmark Habitat Conservation Plan for Tejon Ranch
San Francisco - (May 14, 2013) – Holland & Knight’s West Coast Land Use and Environmental lawyers negotiated another significant land use agreement in California last week with the signing of the Tejon Ranch’s multiple species habitat conservation plan with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) in accordance with the federal endangered species act (ESA). This was a multi-year effort involving representatives from the Service, the Tejon Ranch Company, which operates the 270,000-acre ranch, and DMB Pacific Ventures, LLC, which is a privately held real estate investment and development company that is partnering with the Tejon Ranch Company for development of the 5,000-acre Tejon Mountain Village project.
Holland & Knight partner Elizabeth Lake, who led the team in developing the Habitat Conservation Plan and related regulatory permits, said, “This plan, which covers 141,000 acres and addresses 25 species, is one of the most comprehensive we have ever undertaken. It was designed to protect the special status species residing here as well as enable business, development and recreational activities to thrive. It has been a significant undertaking, and we are very pleased that it is completed.”
This success follows the approvals of the Tejon Mountain Village project by the county, and a successful defense through appeal of the county's Environmental Impact Report, which was led by Holland & Knight partner Jennifer Hernandez, who is handling the land use components of this project.
The Tejon Ranch, located about 60 miles north of Los Angeles, is home to farming operations, cattle grazing, resource extraction operations, recreational activities and limited real estate development. From this agreement, more than 129,000 acres of ranch land will be conserved in perpetuity. These conserved lands include more than 35,000 acres historically used by California condors and has been designated a Condor Study Area.
"With so many interests co-existing in one place, even as vast as it is, the Tejon Ranch agreement posed some real challenges, and we are proud of that we were able to find common ground to protect the species and meet the needs of our clients,” continued Ms. Lake. "Tejon Ranch is a special place as the largest contiguous expanse of private land in California, and it has a significant historical story as a compilation of Mexican land grants. Holland & Knight’s land use practice welcomes such projects. Following the excellent work by Jennifer Hernandez on the EIR with the County, including successful defense of that EIR through appeal, I was thrilled to continue to represent the ranch and the developer through to the resource agency permits. These kinds of projects enable us to demonstrate quite effectively the breadth and depth of our experience in land use issues.”