In southern Mendocino County, embracing forested canyons and mountains, expansive meadowlands, clear streams and massive redwoods lies the extraordinary 14,898-acre Mailliard Ranch, the largest expanse of redwood forest still in private family hands in the coast range, providing shelter and sustenance for a wide range of rare and endangered plants and wildlife.
The Mailliard family has prioritized the conservation of this land since 1925, when they purchased the original parcel. Thanks to the Mailliard family and Save the Redwoods League, this ranchland is poised to be protected through a conservation easement, ensuring permanent protection of the old-growth redwoods and 28 miles of fish-bearing streams. The conservation agreement also will eliminate the threat of subdivision and development on the entire property.
The story of the ranch is as much about the Mailliards as it is about the redwood forest. Indeed, the family and redwoods are inextricably intertwined.
Larry Mailliard grew up in San Francisco but, like many of his relatives, spent weekends and vacations at the ranch. He has been managing the property on behalf of the family for nearly three decades. His grandparents, John Ward Mailliard Jr. and Kate Mailliard, were champions of conservation and sustainable resource management. Their livestock and timber harvest activities were always gentle on the land, improving pasture and woodlands rather than degrading them.
After buying the home ranch in 1925, “John W.” and Kate assiduously purchased adjacent properties, many of which had been managed aggressively in the past. Their motive was to reassemble and restore the natural landscape as they sustained the ranch financially. By 1945, they had acquired multiple parcels, combining them into a single 14,898-acre holding that today represents 72 legal parcels.
From the beginning, the couple focused on protecting the redwood forest. They viewed their care of the magnificent trees on their ranch as a sacred trust and were vocal advocates for the preservation of old-growth groves across the entire coast redwood range. Both John W. and Kate, as well as their son, John III, served on either the Board or Council of Save the Redwoods League from 1944 to the mid-1980s.
“We’ve always used the Cathedral Grove, the site of the ranch’s biggest and oldest redwoods, for family gatherings,” said Larry. “My grandmother Kate was so concerned about the trees that she wouldn’t let us cook there—we had to bring food that was already prepared. She was incredibly fierce in her commitment to this ranch and to the redwood forest, and she passed that on to her children and grandchildren.”
Surely, if Kate were with us today, she would be pleased to know her family’s legacy of careful stewardship will carry on through their new partnership with Save the Redwoods League.