Lovely 572-acre Live Oaks Ranch in the Mayacamas bequeathed to Sonoma Land Trust
SANTA ROSA, CALIF., February 11, 2011
When Marie Rogers passed away in 2009, she left a will designating the Sonoma Land Trust as the beneficiary of her beloved Live Oaks Ranch — 572 stunning acres straddling the Sonoma-Napa County line in Knights Valley. Located near Mount St. Helena in the Mayacamas range, Live Oaks Ranch serves as an important linkage between other protected properties in the region, providing safe passage and habitat connectivity for wildlife. The ranch is also protected by a conservation easement held by the Land Trust of Napa County, providing further assurance that this largely untouched landscape will not be developed further.
“Marie Rogers loved this property and always planned for it to remain wild and pristine,” said Wendy Eliot, conservation director of the Sonoma Land Trust. “It is a privilege to be entrusted with a ranch that’s been kept in such terrific shape — it really is a slice of California ranching perfection.”
Live Oaks Ranch is located near Sonoma Land Trust’s Laufenburg Ranch outside Calistoga and is immediately adjacent to another large protected property, Hafey Ranch, over which a conservation easement is held by the Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District. Robert Louis Stevenson Memorial State Park and Pepperwood Preserve are also nearby, increasing the opportunities for connectivity. Three hundred fifty-nine acres of the ranch are located in Sonoma County and 213 acres are in Napa County.
The property sits in an important habitat corridor and contains significant natural resources, including the headwaters of Bidwell Creek (which also runs through SLT’s Laufenburg Ranch), a rainbow and steelhead trout run, a number of springs and small waterfalls, mixed oak and coniferous woodlands, and a variety of wildlife habitats. While most of the property is uncultivated and rugged, there are several structures on the Sonoma side, including a working barn and a charming 1940’s ranch home (complete with butter-yellow shutters and trim) that have been kept in mint condition. The grasslands have been managed with cattle grazing.
While Rogers’ longtime ranch caretakers will continue to live on the property in accordance with the terms of her will, the Land Trust plans to offer student outings, guided hikes and volunteer workdays. SLT will also work with local partners, such as the Pepperwood Foundation and Sotoyome Resource Conservation District, to restore and manage Bidwell Creek’s fish and riparian habitat.
Live Oaks Ranch represents the largest bequest that the Sonoma Land Trust has received in its 35 years of operation. In fact, it was Rogers’ friendship with neighbor Charlie Laufenburg, who left his 176-acre ranch to the Trust in 1987, that moved her to do so, too. Her passion for protecting the natural state of her ranch was legendary.
“We are indebted to the good, old-time conservation ethic of Marie Rogers and others of her generation for much of the open space that still surrounds us today,” said Ralph Benson, executive director of the Sonoma Land Trust. “Gifts like hers are vital for leaving a legacy of natural lands to inspire future generations and perform their ecological services.”
About the Sonoma Land Trust
Currently celebrating its 35th year, the Sonoma Land Trust preserves scenic, natural, agricultural and open land for future generations. Since 1976, the Sonoma Land Trust has protected more than 25,000 acres of beautiful, productive and environmentally significant land. For more information about the Sonoma Land Trust, please visit www.sonomalandtrust.org.