The Tejon Ranch Company (NYSE: TRC), based in Lebec, California, is one of the largest private landowners in California. The federally gifted lands still held by the Catellus Corporation, a successor to the Southern Pacific Land Company, are much more extensive. It was incorporated in 1936 to organise the ownership of a large tract of land originally comprising four Mexican land grants, and began ranching in the 1840s. It now controls over 270,000 acres (1,093 km2) in the southern San Joaquin Valley, Tehachapi Mountains, and Antelope Valley. Tejon Ranch grows almonds, pistachios, walnuts, wine grapes, and several varieties of row crops. Depending on the season, up to 12,000 head of cattle can be found grazing on the ranch. Cattle leases cover about 250,000 acres (1,012 km2).
In 1843, the Mexican government made grants for the land that became three ranches: the 26,626-acre (107.75 km2) Rancho Los Alamos y Agua Caliente; the 97,617-acre (395.04 km2) Rancho El Tejon; and the 22,178-acre (89.75 km2) Rancho Castac. A fourth tract, the 48,800-acre (197 km2) Rancho La Liebre, was granted in 1846.
At the urging of Edward Beale, Superintendent of Indian Affairs in California, the Sebastian Indian Reservation was established in 1853 on Rancho El Tejon, and Fort Tejon was established by the U.S. Army in 1854 on Rancho Castac. These were federal projects, consisting of major developments and improvements, on what was the Mexican grantees' private land.
In 1855, Edward Beale purchased Rancho La Liebre. The Army abandoned Fort Tejon in 1864. Beale bought Rancho El Tejon and Rancho de los Alamos y Agua Caliente in 1865, and Rancho Castac in 1866. With the purchase of these four Mexican land grants, Beale created the present day Tejon Ranch.
Beale's son, Truxtun Beale, sold the Tejon Ranch in 1912 to a syndicate of investors headed by Los Angeles Times publisher Harry Chandler and land developer Moses Sherman. Both had extensive holdings in the San Fernando Valley. In 1917, some surviving Kitanemuk Indians lived on Tejon Ranch.
In 1936, the Tejon Ranch Company became a public company, with the Chandler–Sherman group retaining a controlling interest.
In 2012, the ranch suspended all hunting, following a 2011 California Department of Fish and Game investigation into the illegal killing of mountain lions. The investigation was initiated by a whistleblower who filed a lawsuit.
Tejon Ranch Company
Tejon Ranch is the largest private landholding in California, and today is owned by Tejon Ranch Company, a company listed on the New York Stock Exchange.
Its principal activity is land development and agribusiness, increasing the value of real estate and resource holding on this land. The company operates in four segments of the economy:
- Real estate, including development, investments, and leases of prime farmland and oil fields.
- Livestock, mainly feedlot beef cattle.
- Farming, including farm consulting. Main crops are wine grapes and several varieties of nuts.
- Resource management, which involves game management and location filming.
Future of the ranch
Conservation and land-use agreement
A large number of California native plants occur on as yet undisturbed land owned by Tejon Ranch. It is situated at a section of the state where several ecoregions meet and overlap: the Mojave Desert, the Central Valley, the Sierra Nevada, and the Transverse Ranges of Southern California. The interaction of unique geography and varying climates has produced high biodiversity, as evidenced by showy spring wildflower blooms.
An agreement between the Tejon Ranch Company and a coalition of environmental groups, announced in May 2008, is designed to permanently protect 240,000 acres (970 km2) of the historic ranch. It is the largest conservation and land-use pact in California history.
The agreement was finally reached to conclude 20 months of off-and-on negotiations, but only after a marathon three-day bargaining session in April 2008. California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger traveled to the ranch in May of that year to take part in the announcement, but the signing of the agreement was done in private in June.
- Tejon Ranch will have the right to proceed with three massive development projects (listed below). All the projects still must undergo approvals by county, state, and federal authorities.
- Tejon Ranch will set aside 178,000 acres (720 km2) for conservation and will provide an option for public purchase of an additional 62,000 acres (250 km2) – 49,000 to create a state park, 10,000 to realign 37 miles (60 km) of the Pacific Crest hiking trail, and the rest for docent-led tours of "sensitive habitat." Tejon Ranch will accept the value set by a state appraiser, both sides agreed. Easements will be phased in but will allow existing buildings and historic uses, like cattle grazing and movie-making, to continue.
- The environmental coalition of the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Sierra Club, Audubon California, the Planning and Conservation League, and the Endangered Habitats League will drop their threatened campaign to oppose the three planned Tejon Ranch developments. But opposition will still be mounted by the Center for Biological Diversity on the grounds that the pact would threaten wildlife.
- A 12-member "independent Tejon Ranch Conservancy" will be appointed by the company and the environmental coalition to manage the preserved land "in perpetuity." The company is to provide $800,000 a year for seven years to get the conservancy started.
- In developing Tejon Mountain Village, the company agreed to leave four of the five northern-facing ridge lines free from development because they are prime foraging grounds for the threatened California condor.
- The Pacific Crest Trail, which runs from Mexico to Canada, will be rerouted on 10,000 acres (40 km2) of Tejon Ranch property so that it will go through the ranch, thus opening vast tracts of wilderness and creating a natural corridor between the Sierra Nevada range of mountains to the east, through the Mojave Desert and the San Joaquin Valley to the Pacific Coast on the west.
Tejon Mountain Village
The most extensive of these projects, Tejon Mountain Village is a proposed residential, commercial, and recreational development that has been a matter of heated debate for years in the Mountain Communities of the Tejon Pass. The development would include homes, commercial buildings, hotels, and golf courses.
Tejon Industrial Complex
Three large warehouses have been built by the Tejon Ranch Company as the first in what will be an industrial complex designed to compete with distribution centers in Riverside and San Bernardino counties. Foreign-made goods will be trucked in from California ports like Oakland and Los Angeles and stored until they are delivered to retailers. About a third of the park is expected to be declared a foreign trade zone, allowing importers to defer payment of U.S. customs duty. The site also includes commercial use like restaurants, automobile service stations, and a large truck stop.
- Gerald Thompson, Edward F. Beale and the American West, University of New Mexico Press, 1983.
- "Kitanemuk." Four Directions Institute. Retrieved 28 Nov 2012.
- Sahagun, Louis (20 January 2012). "Tejon Ranch to suspend hunting as mountain lion killings probed - latimes.com". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 21 January 2012.
- Tejon Ranch Company (NYSE: TRC)
- Dickey, R. (2009). The last floral blooms: Something to see, while they are still there. Fremontia 37:1
- Louis Sahagun, "Tejon Ranch pact would allow 26,000 homes on the range", Los Angeles Times, May 8, 2008
- Stacey Shepard, "Tejon land pact divides environmentalists", Bakersfield Californian, May 8, 2008
- Dennis Cauchon, "'An imperfect understanding' of the environment". USA Today, July 29, 2008
- Peter Fimrite, "'Conservation on a staggering scale' at Tejon". San Francisco Chronicle, May 9, 2008, and corrected on the website since it appeared in print
- James Burger, "Lawsuit likely after supervisors approve Tejon project". Bakersfield Californian October 6, 2009
- Terry Pristin, "Warehouses Nibble on Edge of Giant California Ranch". New York Times February 20, 2008
- Patric Hedlund, "Tejon Mountain Village Wins 3–2 Vote from Planning Commission" Mountain Enterprise September 9, 2009
- Jon Gertner, "Playing Sim City for Real" New York Times Magazine, March 18, 2007
- Tejon Ranch Official Site
- The Mountain Enterprise (local newspaper)
- Tri-County Watchdogs – a local citizens Watchdog group
- Save Tejon Ranch
- Tejon Ranch Conservation and Land Use Agreement
- Comment by the Mountain Daily News website
- Tejon Ranch Hunting & Fishing Info (JHO)