R&R Ranch: MLT Works to Permanently Preserve 1,400+ acres for Wildlife (and a Historic Victorian House!)
March 19, 2021
The Mendocino Land Trust’s mission is to conserve important natural resources including working farmlands and forests, wildlife habitat, and open space in Mendocino County. Recently, there was a fabulous opportunity to do just that in the county’s interior. The R&R Ranch is located in eastern Mendocino County, south of Potter Valley. It includes 1,412 acres of oak woodlands, riparian habitat AND a beautifully preserved Victorian house that was built in the 1870s. There are scenic vistas, agricultural land and rich wildlife habitat. Tule elk and golden eagles are frequently seen on this property. The area includes more than two miles of Mewhinney Creek, a tributary to the East Fork of the Russian River, and provides valuable riparian habitat for many species
Lawrence Turner, MLT’s Director of Conservation, describes his first impressions upon visiting the property last year:
“R&R Ranch is simply stunning. The drive in from Potter Valley along Mewhinney Creek is Inland Mendocino County at its best – shady oaks and open meadow; elk and golden eagle grace your entrance. At the end of the long driveway there is an impeccable example of a classic ranch estate from the late 1800s… Touring the property, you are treated to one of the best examples of an oak woodland around. The size and variety of oaks is inspiring. Special care has been taken throughout the ranch for fire protection with fuel reduction; while no property is immune to fire, it’s evident that the caretaker has done their job well.”
Monika Richardson, MLT’s Conservation Project Coordinator, adds:
“The R&R Ranch is a stunning example of a healthy, diverse oak woodland ecosystem providing rich habitat for quintessential California species such as golden eagle, elk and bear. The historic home is in incredible condition and, according to the groundskeeper, is home to a few resident ghosts. The property contains low lying grasslands with large ponds, and a seasonal creek and extends into the hills covered in various oak species, with a stunning ridgetop view of the Potter Valley.”
This area has a long history that MLT hopes to preserve. The land was stewarded for millennia by the Pomo people. The incredible fecundity of the area and abundance of wildlife was likely shaped by management practices like seasonal use of fire to improve the health of forests and grasslands and benefit the plants and animals the early residents depended on. More recently, the property was owned by Gary Rasche, a Santa Rosa native whose parents owned the local Coca Cola distributorship. Gary was an avid hunter who loved to host friends and spend time at the family’s ranch in Potter Valley. Gary died on August 14, 2018 and left the estate to his heirs. The heirs donated the property to the Trust for Public Land with the agreement that the property would be conserved. The Trust for Public Land partnered with the Mendocino Land Trust to hold the conservation easement over the property.
Photos included in this article were taken in November 2020 by MLT staff Monika Richardson and Nicolet Houtz as they worked to document the habitat and historic values of the property. Their hard work and proficiency at completing scientific surveys and reports, along with the work of our partners with the Trust for Public Land, allowed this conservation easement to happen.
The future looks bright and beautiful for R&R Ranch!