Sheila Varian is a legendary horsewoman and an icon in the Arabian horse world. Varian Arabians Ranch is located near Arroyo Grande, California. Sheila has had a vision for about a decade about how to make a planned gift to the California Rangeland Trust while protecting the approximately 200-acre ranch she’s put together for the wildlife, the people and the horses. The Rangeland Trust is embarking on a conservation project to protect her ranch in perpetuity.
The first step will be launching a campaign to raise $2.5 million from major donors’ gifts and project supporters’ donations to fund the conservation easement, which will ensure it will never be subdivided and will no longer be subject to growing development pressures from houses and vineyards. Sheila will remain the owner of
Upon Sheila’s passing, Angela Alvarez, Sheila’s ranch manager and dear friend, will have the option to continue the Varian Arabian blood lines. When Angela decides to retire, the ranch will be donated to the Rangeland Trust as a planned gift. At that time, the Rangeland Trust will sell the ranch to a conservation buyer. And while it is the dream of the Rangeland Trust to find a buyer who shares a passion for Arabian horses and will continue Sheila’s legacy even after Angela retires, a conservation easement in place that runs with the title of the land ensures this iconic piece of land remains entirely intact forever, no matter what.
“I could not bear the thought of this place being broken up if I was not capable, or I die immediately,” Sheila said. “There would be houses all over it and the animals would have no place to go. Now, all the animals that live here would be safe, Angela and the others who work here will be safe, and people will still be safe to visit here. So the California Rangeland Trust is the perfect partner for me. Now I am comfortable and can rest easy knowing that this place will be taken care of.”
Eventually the proceeds from the sale of the ranch will be used to fund conservation easements on other ranches throughout the state.
“It is a tremendous honor to help conserve the Varian Arabians legacy that Sheila has created,” says Nita Vail, Rangeland Trust CEO. “Because of her vision and generous heart, Sheila’s legacy will be expanded to working ranches across California.”
If you would like to get involved in this project please visit our website: www.RangelandTrust.org.
About California Rangeland TrustThe California Rangeland Trust, a 501(c)(3) public benefit corporation, was created to conserve the open space, natural habitat and stewardship provided by California’s ranches. To date, the Rangeland Trust has protected more than
311,751 acresof productive grazing lands across the state through the use of conservation easements. For more information, visit www.rangelandtrust.org.