In a part of the country known for its ranching history, Nevada’s oldest continuously operating, family-owned ranch has a legacy to represent and a destiny to fulfill.
An important piece of American history has been preserved in Churchill County with the permanent protection of the Cushman-Corkill Ranch of Fallon, Nevada. Family members sought a conservation easement to preserve the property as a working ranch and to protect it from development. Working diligently with various entities, Nevada Land Trust was able to secure funding to purchase and hold a conservation easement in perpetuity.
The 430-acre Corkill ranch, located in a prime agricultural area, was one of several properties identified by Naval Air Station Fallon as important to protect in order to secure a buffer zone around the base against future urban development and challenges to military activities. Naval Air Station Fallon provided funds through their Encroachment Management Program, which was matched by funds from the Nevada Division of State Lands State Question One Program. The protection of the property will help to preserve the rural character of Churchill County for future generations.
In addition to its value to the family, the United States Navy, and Churchill County, the ranch provides important benefits to native wildlife. The abundant water on the property helps to provide for habitat, enhancing the additional wildlife habitat and wetlands on its southern border. Species noted on the property include mule deer, coyotes, rabbits, ring-necked pheasant, white-faced ibis, blue heron, quail, egrets, and various migratory birds.
Becky Stock, Nevada Land Trust’s Projects Director notes, "Preserving working ranches is a key element of Nevada Land Trust’s land protection goals. In the case of this property, we are fortunate to work with a family who cares so passionately for their land and the surrounding community."
The Cushman-Corkill Ranch has also been designated a Nevada Centennial Ranch by the Nevada State Historic Preservation Office's Nevada Centennial Ranches and Farms Program. Purchased in 1861 by Josiah Cushman, it is the oldest continuously operating, family-owned ranch in the state of Nevada. Furthermore, Josiah Cushman was the first to begin irrigating the lands of Churchill County. Early western emigrants stopped at the Cushman ranch to rest and feed their cattle before crossing the Sierra. Since its beginning, cattle and hay have been produced on the ranch. After irrigation came to the valley and the Newlands Project was established, corn, potatoes, Sudan grass and small grains were also produced.
So far, four generations have lived and worked on this property—an enormous feat in an increasingly industrialized world. Clearly, working the land and protecting its bounty is the true measure of success for a family that remains unwaveringly focused on keeping this ranch alive for generations to come.