Mailliard Ranch: The Landowners

Landscape at Mailliard Ranch
Once a sheep ranch that produced Merino wool, the Mailliard Ranch property is also home to the family’s low-impact cattle operation. Photo by John-Birchard, Save the Redwoods League.

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 14,838-acre holding that today represents 69 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.