Just a few hours north of San Francisco in northern Mendocino County lies a special place for redwoods, wildlife and American Indians. Known as Four Corners, this 164-acre parcel is covered with beautiful redwoods and offers a home to threatened wildlife. For more than a thousand years, this land has been the meeting place for native and non-native local residents. With your gifts, Save the Redwoods League has protected and donated the property to descendants of the land’s original inhabitants.
About the size of 125 football fields, Four Corners is nestled between Sinkyone Wilderness State Park on the Lost Coast and the headwaters of the Mattole River. It is one of the few wild and open spaces left in California and is potentially home to many threatened species including the coho salmon, steelhead trout, western tailed frog, marbled murrelet, American peregrine falcon, northern spotted owl and the pallid bat.
The land is literally located at the four corners of Briceland-Whitethorn Road and Usal Road. It is considered an important landmark because of the intersection of all major roads in the area.
Our work to protect special places like Four Corners has become more complex over the years and more challenging than ever before, as traditional partners such as financially strapped California State Parks have practically no means to care for new properties.
Save the Redwoods League partnered with the InterTribal Sinkyone Wilderness Council (external link), a nonprofit conservation consortium of 10 federally recognized Northern California Indian Tribes. The organizations worked together for several years to figure out how to best protect Four Corners’ natural, cultural and historical values while determining a way to return this important property to a tribal organization representing descendants of the land’s original inhabitants.
A unique agreement was reached this year: The League donated Four Corners to the Council. In return, the Council granted the League a conservation easement, an agreement to further protect the property from future development and natural resource extraction. Both organizations are committed to protecting redwood forests and their surrounding lands forever.
“Our agreement with the Council will ensure the land essentially remains in its current state by precluding commercial harvesting and further development,” said Ruskin K. Hartley, former League Executive Director. “It also includes provisions that allow a critical trail corridor to be built that will connect portions of Sinkyone Wilderness State Park along the Mattole River with those at the coast.”
“These types of partnerships are becoming ever more important in our work for the redwoods,” Hartley said.
The Property’s History
It’s believed that Four Corners was part of the extended Mendocino Indian Reservation, which originally was established in 1856 at Fort Bragg near the mouth of the Noyo River. In 1887, the Dawes Act allowed the US President to divide reservation land, which was held by the tribe members, into small allotments to be parceled out to individuals. After enactment of the Dawes Act, an Indian family owned the property. In the 1950s, they sold it to non-Indians. Later, in 1997, the League purchased Four Corners for $750,000.
Save the Redwoods League and the Council hope that this project will encourage more partnerships between tribes and conservation organizations. This is the first time the League has entered into a conservation agreement with a California Indian Tribe and vice versa for the Council.
“We feel blessed that we’ve been chosen to take care of this land,” said Priscilla Hunter, Council Chairwoman and Co-Founder. “We also are thankful that people and organizations like Save the Redwoods League care so deeply about the protection of our Mother Earth, and that they have placed their trust in us to continue that protection on this land for the sake of its future and the return of our people’s stewardship there.”
“We’re grateful to the Lannan Foundation, which provided funding support for the conservation easement’s administration fund and baseline documentation report,” Hunter added. “We also want to thank the tribes and the community for supporting us in this effort.”
The League and the Council will collaborate on development of a public hiking trail through the property. Public access will be limited to this trail, which will traverse the Four Corners land to link the Upper Mattole Reserve lands to the Sinkyone Wilderness State Park.
The Council plans to develop and implement a forest management plan so it can prioritize and carry out property-wide restoration projects. The group will consult with the League on all its future management activities.
Your Help Is Needed
If you would like to support projects like this, please donate to our Redwood Land Fund. This fund allows us to seize the opportunity to purchase redwood land when it enters the marketplace.