Most people will find it hard to believe that the single largest, contiguous piece of private land in California, situated just a little more than an hour drive from Los Angeles still remains an area of botanical mystery.
Encompassing an area of 270,000 acres or 420 square miles, the ranch occupies one of the most interesting and complex ecological transition zones in California. There is no other single place in the world where the floristic regions known as the San Joaquin Valley, Western Transverse Ranges, Mojave Desert, and southern Sierra Nevada converge. Additionally, a significant portion of the Tehachapi Mountains (essentially the extreme southern end of the Sierra Nevada) is occupied by Tejon. As a result of this location, Tejon Ranch is thought of as being an area of ecological transitions, interesting assemblages of plants from seemingly disparate regions, and quite possibly a whole host of undescribed species, new to science.
At this point in time you might find yourself thinking, “Surely the flora of such an interesting region so close to Los Angeles must have been studied in great detail?” Would you be surprised if I told you that on average there is only a single plant specimen collection for every 110 acres of Tejon Ranch? And what’s more, most of these collections are centered on the few areas that have had formal botanical surveys or were historically easily accessible by collectors.
The reason for this relatively sparse amount of botanical survey history lies in the history of Tejon Ranch. As a private, working cattle ranch since the 1840s, Tejon was almost entirely closed to scientific research until 2008 when the Tejon Ranch Conservancy was created. Under this landmark deal, approximately 100,000 acres of the ranch were placed under conservation easements, and an additional 140,000 acres were reserved from the potential of future development. This amounts to approximately 90% of the ranch being conserved for future generations. As a result of the creation of the Tejon Ranch Conservancy, the ranch is now effectively “open” for scientific research.
The goal of my research is to perform a florsitic survey leading to a better understanding of the plants on Tejon Ranch and adjacent ecological regions. I look forward to sharing with you stories about the flora of Tejon, my discoveries, and the results of my research. This research is made possible through the generous support of and collaboration with the Tejon Ranch Conservancy and Company.
Stay tuned-it is going to be a wild ride!
For more information about me, Nick Jensen, please click here.
And, for more information about my research please click here.
For more information on the Tejon Ranch Conservancy please click here.
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