Skip to content

Zumwalt Prairie Cooperative

With upfront funding from The Climate Trust, the Probert family–owners of the Lightning Creek Ranch in Eastern Oregon–recorded a no-till conservation easement that protects the Probert’s grassland resources forever. This investment by The Climate Trust is the first-ever use of carbon offset finance to help pay for the value of a conservation easement.  By granting the easement to The Nature Conservancy, the Proberts have permanently protected their 12,225-acres of grassland from conversion to cropland or to residential or commercial energy, while allowing the ranch to continue running cattle. Preventing emissions associated with tillage will keep an estimated 55,000 tons of soil carbon in the ground.  Additionally, by keeping their soil undisturbed, the Proberts can sell carbon credits, creating a new income source for the family. 

The Probert’s ranch is one of three properties comprising the Zumwalt prairie carbon cooperative with the remaining two owned by Beef Northwest, a rancher-owned feeding company serving the local ranch community.  This project is the first-ever example of how carbon can provide up-front financing for grassland conservation, and how a project cooperative can better enable family ranches to access carbon markets to protect their grassland resources. Combined, this project protected 22,000 acres–adjacent to 33,000 already owned by The Nature Conservancy—comprising the largest remaining bunch grass prairie in the country.  Conservation of these large intact areas are critical for a variety of prairie species including migratory animals, whose habitats are otherwise largely unprotected. “Wallowa County is a very special and unique place, and I believe it is absolutely critical that we protect our resources for future generations,” said Dan Probert. “Because of this conservation easement, Lightning Creek Ranch will always remain a working ranch while also protecting some of the most beautiful and ecologically important lands in the country.”

The Zumwalt prairie project is a prime example of how The Climate Trust uses carbon offset financing to help conserve North America’s grasslands and support the ranching communities.  “We are elated to have provided capital to this charismatic project,” said Kyler Sherry, Chief Operating Officer for The Climate Trust. “The environmental benefits from preserving native grasslands are vast, with impacts ranging from improved water quality and soil erosion prevention to the safeguarding of carbon stored in the ground. This investment grade project reflects our ongoing strategy of supporting quality projects in the early stages of development to elevate their impact.”

At the Climate Trust, we take great pride in working with partners like The Nature Conservancy, Lightning Creek Ranch and Beef Northwest to advance conservation across America’s grasslands.  As the leading grassland carbon developer and only carbon-based easement funder, The Climate Trust is working to scale grassland conservation to support family ranches and protect important prairie habitat.  Our risk management expertise and non-profit mission enable us to provide critical up-front easement funding and ongoing carbon credit revenues that diversify and supplement ranch income susceptible to climate impact for our partners.

Interested in supporting this project?

Image of dark wheat field during sunrise.

Our Mission & Vision

As a nonprofit organization, our investments are driven by climate impact and put landowners first. We work alongside our partners to develop and fund projects that support grassland conservation, reforestation, and improved forest management strategies.