Ridge Top Ranch

Natural Asset Opportunity Assessment that Evaluated the Feasibility of a Species Conservation Bank on a Cattle Ranch Site.


Ridge Top Ranch, a 745-acre species conservation bank in northern California, exemplifies how WRA’s natural asset opportunity assessments can shed light on environmental assets that would have otherwise gone undetected. Ridge Top Ranch’s credits are currently valued at $18 million; however, just a few years prior, the property was considered a liability because of its proximity to a hazardous waste dump. The understanding of property value quickly changed when WRA biologists identified the site as habitat for a frog and butterfly species listed under the Endangered Species Act.

California Red-legged Frog (Rana draytonii)

The discovery of endangered species habitat at Ridge Top Ranch triggered an opportunity assessment to determine whether a species conservation bank would be viable. First, WRA quantified the number of species credits likely to be awarded to the property based on ecological conditions and restoration potential. Next, WRA’s Mitigation Banking department staff, who are deeply experienced in negotiating the Bank entitlement process with regulatory agencies, provided a timeline and cost assessment for Bank approval. Finally, WRA estimated credit sales based on the likely demand for credits from nearby development projects and competition from other species banks and in lieu fee programs in the area. The results of these analyses were then incorporated into financial models to estimate the total profits of the potential Bank.

The natural asset opportunity assessment demonstrated that a species conservation bank would be the highest and best use of the property.  Following the completion of the study, WRA worked with the landowner to develop the Bank and obtain regulatory approval. Creating the bank entailed the removal of invasive species and the translocation of the threatened frog species to restored breeding habitat on the site.  Hundreds of acres/credits have been issued to Ridge Top Ranch,at a value of $20,000 to $30,000 per credit, for a total credit value of about $18 million. The first credit transaction was completed in 2015.

See the following links for additional information on Ridge Top Ranch: