A Pozo-area family recently negotiated an easement to preserve more than 12,000 acres of rangeland in eastern San Luis Obispo County.
The Sintons partnered with the California Rangeland Trust, the Wildlife Conservation Board and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation to preserve the 12,284-acre Avenales Ranch. The land has been in the family for six generations and is a noted habitat for the California condor, red-legged frog and tule elk, according to a California Rangeland Trust news release.
“We want it to be open space forever,” said Daniel Sinton, Avenales’ director of operations. “This is a great option for how to do this.”
About 500 to 600 head of beef cattle still roam the working ranch, Sinton said. He’s a fifth-generation rancher — Sinton’s ancestors acquired Avenales in the 1870s. Jim Sinton, Daniel’s grandfather, will turn 101 this year and still lives on the family’s properties.
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The Sintons also own about 6,000 acres off Shell Creek Road near Shandon.
The family has long been known for its dedication to preserving ranchland and providing habitats for various animals. Steve Sinton, Daniel’s father, received the American Farmland Trust’s Steward of the Land award in 2005 for his sustainable ranching efforts.
Daniel Sinton said the family created the easement to ensure the land is preserved “in perpetuity.” The California Rangeland Trust — which Steve Sinton helped found — and the two other organizations purchased the development rights to a large chunk of the land, and the family donated the remainder, he said.
The Sintons continue to take pride in cultivating space for wildlife and “managed grazing,” Daniel Sinton said. The family also welcomes Cal Poly and UC Davis researchers who are interested in studying Avenales, he said.
“I think that’s something that’s been passed down from generation to generation,” Daniel Sinton said.