Wherever you roam, there’s no place like home. For nearly a century, six generations of ranchers have called Nick Ranch home and have made a living off its fertile valleys. The ranch land is also home to many types of wildlife including bobcat, mountain lion, black bear, and the occasional California condor up above.

When thinking ahead to the financial challenges that would await their children as the land was passed down, owners Fred and Donna Nick began exploring voluntary conservation opportunities. By working in partnership with the Land Conservancy, Fred and Donna were able to protect their family’s home ranch and cattle operation while permanently preserving the land’s natural values.

Located east of Pozo, Nick Ranch remains a vibrant agricultural operation that supplies local food and maintains the rural character of San Luis Obispo Country. Spacious valleys provide an abundant pasture to the Nick Family’s carefully selected heard of grass-fed cattle, which are more healthy and nutritious than grain-fed cows.

“As a child, I thought everybody had a backyard like ours. As an adult, I realize how my parents (and grandparents) must have struggled and sacrificed to keep our Ranch intact. Instead of selling off during hard times, they were saving to purchase adjacent property. With more growth forcing wildlife out of their habitat, we feel happy and proud knowing that because of this conservation easement ‘all the little critters,’ as my Dad said, will always have a home here on the Nick Ranch.”- Juanell Nick Hepburn, Nick Ranch LLC

The 1,337-acre Nick Ranch is permanently protected by a conservation easement held by the Land Conservancy but remains under private ownership and management by the Nick Family. In addition to supporting local agriculture and preserving a family legacy of ranching, this conservation effort also protects important oak woodland habitat, safeguards the headwaters of the upper Salinas River, and is immediately adjacent to the Machesna Mountain Wilderness.

Nick Ranch Project Highlights

  • Conserves 1,337 acres of ranchland, oak woodland, and heritage oak trees
  • Protects the headwaters of the Salinas River and municipal drinking water sources
  • Preserves a family legacy of six generations of ranchers over nearly a century
  • Supports innovative grass-fed beef agricultural operation
  • Provides habitat for local wildlife including the endangered California Condor
  • Connects to Machesna Mountain Wilderness

Project Funding Partners

  • California Wildlife Conservation Board
  • California Wildlife Conservation’s Grassland Protection Act of 2002
  • The Nick Family

The permanent conservation of the Nick Ranch benefits local people and wildlife while sustaining our County’s agricultural legacy. To support more projects like this that protect our local way of life, consider making a donation or volunteering your time.