HONOLULU, June 30, 2015—During International Year of Soil, this month is dedicated to raise awareness on how soils support recreation. At Sunset Ranch in Pupukea, the 27-acre property is home to a horse ranch, coffee plantation, citrus orchard, mixed produce farm, aquaculture, and botanical garden. Of the 27 acres, 12 are dedicated to pasture with five acres of riding field for their specialized program that incorporates horses for personal growth, learning, and healing.

Sunset Ranch is one of few agricultural operations that have conveyed a perpetual agricultural conservation easement to the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in partnership with the North Shore Community Land Trust and the City and County of Honolulu. The property was preserved for agriculture through the Farm and Ranch Protection Program (FRPP) which is now incorporated under the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP) administered by NRCS and authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill.

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In addition to the preservation of this agricultural land, Sunset Ranch has a conservation plan with NRCS and the West Oahu Soil and Water Conservation District. The plan includes integrated pest management, micro irrigation, mulching, critical area planting, prescribed grazing, and heavy use area protection. These conservation practices will help to reduce erosion, protect water quality, and manage weeds.

“This is a wonderful example of how an agricultural easement has protected prime agricultural land and helped diversify operations on a ranch known for its equine training and therapy programs, as well as its scenic views,” stated Bruce Petersen, NRCS Director of the Pacific Islands Area. NRCS is the federal agency that provides voluntary technical assistance for conservation and restoration of natural resources on private agricultural lands. Established in 1935 as a response to the Dust Bowl, the Soil Conservation Service (SCS) evolved to the Natural Resources Conservation Service to protect, restore and enhance soil, water, air, plants, and animal resources, with human social, economic and cultural considerations. In 1937 Soil Conservation Associations, now called Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCD), were authorized by President Roosevelt to act as local partners to the Federal SCS, and can plan and carry out local programs for soil conservation, flood prevention, water management, outdoor recreation, and other purposes within their boundaries. Hawaii has 16 SWCD’s on eight islands.

NRCS, SWCD, and conservation cooperators such as Sunset Ranch, have been dedicated to conserving and enhancing the natural resources on private agricultural properties for decades, and this means starting with the soils that support and enable agricultural production and recreational activities, such as found at Sunset Ranch. To learn more about the programs and services of NRCS, and how we are celebrating International Year of Soils, visit www.pia.nrcs.usda.gov. USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

Jolene Lau
Public Affairs Specialist
Natural Resources Conservation Service
United States Department of Agriculture
300 Ala Moana Blvd., #4-118
Honolulu, HI 96850
(808) 541-2600 ext. 135
www.pia.nrcs.usda.gov

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