Our Ranch sits in Washoe Valley with sweeping views of the Sierra amplified by their reflections in Washoe Lake. The Virginia Range to the east was where I spent much of my free time on horseback with my parents or in the old Jeep. I grew up here helping my family ranch the land. I feel fortunate to live here now with my wife Lou and, thanks in part to our conservation easement, I’m still farming the land. With trepidation, our family watched development creep south in the 1960’s from the Truckee Meadows, and extend even closer into New Washoe City. This love of open spaces made me especially receptive to ideas such as conservation easements as a land protection tool, and in 2006 I was able to secure this protection for the family ranch.
The experiences in farming and ranching I was afforded here were the major factors in determining my desire to pursue a career in agriculture. I studied agriculture in college and then spent years in research and in production in California’s Central Valley before taking a teaching position at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. Living in California it was startling to see the urbanization of prime farmland. As a result I became interested in preserving farmland and open space. Among the options being used, conservation easments stood out as a tool, and I began introducing the concept in my classes. Since retirement I’ve remained active in agriculture in the Great Basin as a consultant and a farmer.
Our conservation easement was Nevada’s first Farm & Ranchland Protection Program (USDA) agricultural easement, and Nevada Land Trust’s very first conservation easement. For me, the conservation easement provided peace of mind that this land I love will remain in agriculture and open space forever no matter the ownership. I recognize this land’s value to wildlife through its proximity to surrounding state and federal public land. The property provides a critical corridor to Washoe Lake water as well as critical habitat for wildlife.
I love the state of Nevada, and I really enjoy my current position, which requires traveling the state visiting farmers and ranchers in remote open spaces. I’ve spoken to many ranchers who either have conservation easements on their land or who are considering conservation easements for themselves. I can impart to them how my bargain sale easement has reduced my taxes and helped with cash flow. I know for others the estate tax benefits have allowed younger generations to continue ranching in their family’s footsteps, or how it has allowed others to purchase additional ranch land and expand their agricultural holdings.
When I decided to look into a conservation easement Nevada Land Trust was recommended to me by a number of organizations as the ideal agency to assist. The recommendations were right on target and I was pleased with the results. The process took a lot longer than I anticipated (through no fault of NLT) but I was kept abreast of each step. What was most impressive to me was that I was able to set the parameters and terms of the easement as I envisioned them and was not pressured into decisions uncomfortable to my family or me. In short, I was extremely satisfied with the process, the results, and with NLT.
Jim Greil has been a Nevada Land Trust Board Trustee since 2007.