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Together, we met two major funding goals to protect the largest remaining family-owned redwood forest

Thanks to our generous donors, California voters and the State of California Wildlife Conservation Board (WCB), Save the Redwoods League is set to complete the first phase of our Mailliard Ranch project, which protects three-quarters of this majestic property from development and subdivision. Protection of the ranch will secure the stability of the regional forest ecosystem.

Inspired by the challenge offered by Justin Faggioli and Sandra Donnell, Save the Redwoods League Board Chair and Councilor respectively, to match all new gifts up to $250,000, League donors closed the $500,000 gap by the May 25 deadline.

On the same day, the WCB granted the League $4.75 million toward the purchase of conservation easements for three-quarters of the ranch – the West and Middle portions. We thank the WCB for sharing our vision of conserving these portions totaling 11,178 acres rich in young redwood forests, wildlife and streams. The WCB’s grant stemmed from Proposition 84 (external link), the Safe Drinking Water, Water Quality and Supply, Flood Control, River and Coastal Protection Bond Act of 2006, which was approved by California voters in the 2006 general election. We thank California voters for their investment in our natural resources.

In addition, the California Natural Resources Agency’s Environmental Enhancement and Mitigation Program awarded $500,000 for the West portion. The program was established by legislation in 1989 under the California Streets and Highways Code with funding from the Highway Users Tax Account.

The League is seeking public funding to complete the final phase in Mailliard Ranch’s protection over the next two years.

Meeting these goals today shows how public and private funding is the key to our work in protecting, restoring and connecting people to the redwood forest, our American treasure.


A Majestic Landscape Destined for Conservation, not Development

Mailliard Ranch
Photo by Paolo Vescia.
From the top of a peak known as Flag Point, it’s easy to understand what’s at stake. You turn slowly, taking in a 360-degree panorama of heavily forested canyons and mountains, expansive meadowlands and, far to the west, a soft, cerulean horizon that marks the Pacific Ocean. You watch as black-tailed deer and jackrabbits dart through meadow grasses to avoid the watchful eye of a golden eagle circling above. In the distance, an orange sun slips behind a ridge top, silhouetting the crowns of massive redwoods.

This is Mailliard Ranch. At 14,898 acres, it is the largest undivided family-owned property in southern Mendocino County. Moreover, with nearly 1,000 acres of towering old-growth redwood forest and mixed conifer groves, it is 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.Located in a valley of hobby farms, vineyard developments and sprouting second homes, the 72 potential legal lots on this ranch pose an ever-present temptation for the ranch’s numerous co-owners—multigenerational family members who are geographically dispersed—to sell to developers. The prospect of losing this northern California redwood gem is all too real, given the uncertainty of what future ranch inheritors may decide to do with the land.

But now, thanks to the Mailliard family and Save the Redwoods League, this expansive ranchland is poised to be protected through conservation easements, ensuring permanent protection of the old-growth redwoods and 28 miles of fish-bearing streams at the headwaters of the Garcia River and in tributaries of the Navarro River. The conservation agreement also will eliminate the threat of subdivision and development on the entire property.

“We are deeply honored that the Mailliards have chosen to work with Save the Redwoods League to achieve permanent protection of this incomparable property,” said Sam Hodder, League President and CEO. “These easements consolidate the family’s remarkable preservation legacy and allow the League to carry forward our shared conservation vision for the land.”

As part of the agreement, the Mailliards will retain ownership of the land and continue to steward and manage it. This innovative partnership positions the League to permanently safeguard the most significant family-owned redwood forest in the coast redwood range—a truly extraordinary opportunity for conservation.

Completion of this project would nearly double the amount of land that Save the Redwoods League has protected in Mendocino County.


Forest Management Ahead of Its Time

Mailliard Ranch location map portrait 6-3-14
Click to view larger map.

Mailliard Ranch is off Route 128 near Boonville, California, in the scenic Anderson Valley. Formerly a sheep ranch producing New Zealand Merinos renowned for their high-quality wool, the property is now home to a small, low-impact cattle operation.

Strategically located in the heart of Mendocino County, the ranch serves as a buffer to accelerating development in the area and secures the stability of the regional forest ecosystem. It also connects adjacent Mailliard Redwoods State Natural Reserve—donated by the family to the League for inclusion in the California State Parks system in 1946—and the Garcia River Forest, creating a mosaic of more than 82,000 acres of contiguous protected lands extending the river’s headwaters to the coast. This ideal connectivity has made the ranch a decades-long priority for conservation interests in California.

“The Mailliard family has stitched together and steadily healed a landscape that had been previously subdivided among dozens of small landowners. They took what was once a scrappy patchwork of heavily managed land and carefully nurtured it back to health,” Hodder said. “But as current family members are well aware, their past conservation stewardship does not guarantee permanent protection. Development and subdivision loom as serious threats, which is why we must act now to protect this land for the future.”

The Mailliard family has zealously guarded the old-growth redwoods on the ranch for decades, and has limited sustainable, selective timber production to previously managed portions of the ranch. In fact, current operations are exceedingly light: There is little visible indication of the selective thinning the family employs to ensure the long-term health of the forest, its creeks and streams, and its rich wildlife habitat.

That’s because conservation has been first and foremost for the Mailliards since 1925, when the family purchased the original parcel at the heart of the ranch. Over the years, they expanded the property by acquiring neighboring parcels as they came up for sale, resulting in a seamless natural landscape.

“At Mailliard Ranch, long-term care has always co-existed with environmentally sound land use,” said forester Todd McMahon, who has worked with the Mailliards and other clients for years. “Sustainable timber management is just now becoming standard, but this family has been doing it for 90 years. They were far ahead of their time. To this day, they advance the ecological health of the redwood forest as their first priority.”


Sustaining Incredible Natural Resources

The protection of Mailliard Ranch preserves precious natural resources and delivers tangible benefits to people and wildlife. From inspirational redwood groves and scenic vistas, to abundant plant and animal habitat, clean air and water, and mitigation of environmental impacts from climate change, the exceptional natural values of this property are many. What’s more, the scale at which these benefits exist is massive and transformative, ensuring that the wild character and biodiversity of the entire southern Mendocino County region remain intact, ecologically resilient and protected from future encroachments.

The ranch’s ancient redwoods are of paramount interest to the League. The easement that the League is purchasing places these spectacular old-growth trees under permanent protection; at the same time, sustainable harvest on the ranch’s second-growth working forestlands will emphasize low-impact techniques and the acceleration of old-growth characteristics via selective thinning.

The conservation easement will reduce by one-half the amount of timber that could have been cut under the California Forest Practice rules. In addition, the easement will permanently protect two beautiful old-growth groves, prohibit clearcutting, and significantly improve stream protection. Under the easement, the family will continue to maintain the property as a working ranch with a small, low-impact cattle operation.

“Our family’s vision has always been to save this land for future generations,” said ranch co-owner Charlotte Mailliard Shultz. “Now it’s gratifying to know that, through our partnership with Save the Redwoods League, the natural integrity of these rolling hills and redwood forests can remain intact, and the beauty and character of this place has the potential to be protected forever.”

Mailliard Ranch


You Made a Difference

The total value of the conservation easements protecting Mailliard Ranch is $26.665 million. The Mailliard family has agreed to accept $21.665 million, contributing $5 million of the purchase price. The Mailliards will also donate $4 million in carbon offset credits, boosting the real value of the family’s financial donation to $9 million.

We thank our generous donors for contributing $3 million. Save the Redwoods League is seeking additional public funding from state and federal grant programs to complete the project.

Because of our donors’ help, we can ensure permanent protection of this signature redwood landscape so that the ranch’s splendid forests, rivers and streams, and vast array of plants and wildlife continue to survive and thrive.

When added to adjacent protected lands, it will create more than 82,000 acres of protected hillsides, meadows and forestland — protection that will last forever.

 

Critical Natural Resources You’re Helping to Save

  • 14,898 acres of signature Mendocino County redwood ranchland
  • 11,881 acres of redwood and Douglas fir forest
  • 989 acres of old-growth redwood forest and mixed conifer groves
  • Headwaters of the Garcia River and tributaries of the Navarro River
  • 28 miles of critical rivers and streams that serve as spawning and rearing habitat for coho salmon and steelhead trout
  • Habitat for numerous endangered, threatened and rare species, including coho salmon, marbled murrelets, northern spotted owls, western pond turtles and golden eagles
  • 59 native plant species
  • By limiting future timber harvests, more carbon sequestered in the property’s coast redwoods, which capture more carbon dioxide than any other tree on Earth
  • Connects a total of 82,314 acres of contiguous protected lands linking headwaters to the coast
  • Nearly doubles the amount of land protected by Save the Redwoods League in Mendocino County

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