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The recent purchase of a large ranch east of Bakersfield has conversationists celebrating land and wildlife protections of "continental significance."

The purchase of 15,000-acre Tollhouse Ranch and related efforts to connect 270,000 acres between Los Angeles and the Sierra Nevada are the subject of an eight-page article in the latest issue of Nature Conservancy magazine.

The magazine said complex efforts to take private a huge chunk of Kern County was part of "the race to protect one of North America's most crucial -- and vulnerable -- wildlife corridors."

Doing that was no small matter, according to the magazine:

"The scale of this protected corridor would be noteworthy anywhere in the world, says Tom Maloney, executive director of the Tejon Ranch Conservancy, one of the major partners working to protect the range. 'But to accomplish this in Southern California is staggering -- audacious!' "

The Tollhouse Ranch deal geographically links previous land-preservation deals involving 240,000 acres on Tejon Ranch, and roughly 17,000 acres on the Parker and Caliente ranches.