As Barbara Potter faced lung cancer at age 84, she became determined to ensure the ranch she loved and on which she worked cattle for 50 years was conserved. She died before her wish was realized, but thanks to a unique partnership between her longtime friend and the California Rangeland Trust, her wish was fulfilled in April, three years after she passed away.
Potter Ranch, a 150-acre property located in Clements in San Joaquin County, will remain in agriculture forever. The ranch was donated to the Rangeland Trust in April, permanently protecting the beautiful pastures and wildlife habitat that Potter loved. The organization will ensure it will legally never be subdivided and will continue as a working cattle ranch. Currently, the ranch is leased to a local rancher.
Potter intended the ranch to remain working land. “She wanted the land and its views to be valued and for it to continue to inspire so many people of California,” said Potter’s dear friend, Francis Carter, who helped California Rangeland Trust carry out her wishes. “Barbara knew that (donating it to the trust) was the way to keep the land the way it’s supposed to be.”
The donation of the Potter Ranch was not without its challenges. California Rangeland Trust staff began working with Ms. Potter to conserve the property while she was alive. After she died in May of 2010, they found a lien for outstanding medical bills had been placed on the property by Lodi Memorial Hospital.
Committed to fulfilling Potter’s wishes, staff members at the Rangeland Trust were able to secure a low interest loan from a generous supporter to pay off the lien. The next hurdle was ensuring that the property met all environmental standards. Once this assurance was achieved, the donation was completed.
A schoolteacher, Potter retired early to pursue her lifelong love of ranching and horses. She purchased the ranch in 1959 and built a working cattle operation that she ran for almost 50 years. With an independent spirit, Ms. Potter single-handedly built the home where she and Carter lived.
“Barbara loved the land, the animals and everything that was on it,” said Carter, 92. “She wanted to preserve all of nature’s wonderful scenery and uses. Conserving this ranch was the only thing that would have pleased her.”
Potter’s determination to keep her working ranch intact embodies the mission of the California Rangeland Trust to conserve open landscapes, wildlife habitat, clean air and water, local food supplies and California’s ranching heritage.
“Ms. Potter was a pioneering cattlewoman who loved and valued her land. She trusted the Rangeland Trust and trusted Francis to ensure her land remained a working cattle ranch,” said Nita Vail, CEO of the Rangeland Trust. “It is a great honor to protect this ranch that was the product of Ms. Potter’s deep love and hard work.”
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.