Yorkville Family Lands
Diane* was living in the Central Valley when she first saw her Mendocino County property just after a storm cleared. “You could see all the way to Mt. Shasta -- it was spectacular,” said Diane, sitting in the house she eventually built on the property. Diane knew she was home, and was “never gonna leave.”
Diane enjoys quiet and the peace of solitude, knowing she will not be disturbed, other than to enjoy a pack of coyotes who howl regularly, twice a night, or to listen to the birds from her deck in the morning. Diane owns the property with several friends. One day, after many decades, they realized that they wanted the property to stay the way it is, as a simple homestead. Diane has no children of her own, but her land partners do. They wondered how they could maintain their homesteaders' vision of a quiet, simple place off the grid, where joy can be shared with a community away from it all. How could they ensure this when they wouldn’t always be the ones in charge?
The answer was to conserve the property so when the next generation comes of age they will be able to carry forth the same vision. Diane said that the Mendocino Land Trust helped them to meet that goal. She smiles as she reflects on the impact of her decision: “We now sleep a bit better knowing that if any one of us, or our heirs, need to sell their share, there will never be development, subdivision or commercial enterprise on the property -- just a bit of wildness, a place that will forever be home.”
*Name changed to respect privacy
Dark Horse Ranch
Have you wondered how thirsty grapes are surviving the drought? Mendocino Land Trust is helping farmers who are using water-saving strategies -- farmers like Paul Dolan, who conserved his land and runs a vineyard in Ukiah Valley.
Paul Dolan uses a “dry farming” method which clears away dirt and roots from under the vines, making them send their roots deeper into the ground in search of moisture and nutrients. While the lack of water results in a smaller crop and shorter grape cluster, Paul is appreciative that at least there is a crop.
“My family believes that agriculture is part of our local community -- and we want to ensure it stays that way for generations to come,” remarked Paul. “Conserving the land was part of our strategy to do just that.”
Is Conservation for You?
by Shirley Freriks
When I was a child on my grandparents’ farm in Ohio, my mother and grandfather were always “noses to the ground” with me, watching the behavior of an insect or a plant growing. In the midst of a busy life in Marin, I needed a place to get back in touch with those special moments on the farm and to find peace and quiet. I wanted to find my roots again.
I knew from the very first day I walked onto the land in Albion that it felt special. Part of that feeling was that it was off the grid, alive with silence, and just right to camp on. The forest, well on its way to recovery from past severe logging, was beautiful, and beckoned me. There was a creek with a “dragon” and a small pond with a little dock where I could lie down over the water and gaze up at the sky and trees. Paradise!
I bought that 20-acre parcel in 1990 and camped there for four years on my getaways, until I built a small wooden yurt so I could stay longer and warmer. I learned to recognize and feel every nook and cranny of the property.
When a neighbor on the adjoining property announced plans to clear-cut her forest right up to my yurt, I was horrified that my sense of peace and quiet here would be destroyed with the loss of continuous tree canopy. I offered to buy the property to save the trees, but my neighbor would not sell. She was determined to do a THP (Timber Harvest Plan). Sick at heart, I went abroad for three months. When I returned, fearing the worst, she had changed her mind and decided to sell. I bought the adjoining 20-acre parcel, including a farmhouse, in 1997, and promptly planted a Peace Pole and a wind harp to re-enchant the land.
How can I say that I love this land more than anyone can imagine? It gives me solace every day to live here and enjoy all the energy of a wild place, the chorus of birds each morning and the different light that falls through the trees as the seasons change. I have no children of my own, but dream of finding a way to share this place with young people who might come here to appreciate putting their noses to the ground like I did as a child, listening to the forest, and learning to care for it deeply.
With a conservation easement, Mendocino Land Trust helped me realize my goal of letting these precious acres continue to recover. They will never be logged again. The harmonies the wind harp plays in the breezes are a pleasant reminder that this land will be protected forever. That adds a lot to my enjoyment on every walk.