The Lone Pine Ranch, a 27,000-acre property straddling Trinity and Mendocino counties, is a vast property of redwood forests, grassy meadows and a 16.5 mile stretch of the Eel River. Now, the state of California has appropriated $10 million dollars to complete the acquisition of the iconic ranch. The acquisition was announce by Senator Mike McGuire this week.
“The Eel River Canyon is like no other place in the west, and it will be the crown jewel of the Great Redwood Trail,” Senator Mike McGuire said. “I’m thrilled that we were able to secure these funds which will allow The Wildlands Conservancy to acquire and open the Lone Pine Ranch to the public. This amazing piece of Earth will feature a breathtaking twelve miles of Trail along the Eel River with a total of 18 miles of riverfront. We couldn’t be more thrilled!”
The ranch is currently owned by the descendants of the late stock market titan Dean Witters, who are looking to offload the property following 76 years of family ownership. In essence, the Lone Pine Ranch is a remote piece of land nearly the size of San Francisco, with some of the most pristine wilderness Northern California has to offer. Brooks Witter, the great-grandson of the Wall Street savant, remembers being in awe of the vast wilderness as a kid.
“We would drive around and look for wildlife in the back of a truck. There are lots of deer, bear, coyotes, bobcats, porcupine, some mountain lions, wild pigs, lot of bird life. Elk have come back on the property in the last decade,” Brooks told SFGate.
The Wildlands Conservancy has been working on this acquisition for several years. The Conservancy previously spent $3.9 million of its own funds to purchase a 3,000-acre portion of the Ranch straddling Humboldt and Trinity counties. That deal gave the nonprofit organization a two-year option to purchase the remaining 27,000 acres for $25 million. The $10 million from the State is the final piece of the puzzle to ensure a successful purchase of the property. Additional funds had been previously secured via private donors and grant funding.
“I am so impressed with The Wildlands Conservancy. Their vision for this spectacular landscape, ability to raise the funds to help purchase this property and their track record of working with the neighbors and the public is unmatched,” said McGuire. “We can’t wait to move the property’s master plan forward and eventually get folks onto the land and hiking the Trail. We’re grateful for the Conservancy’s partnership.”
The Wildlands Conservancy owns and operates California’s largest nonprofit nature preserve system. All of their properties are open to the public and are free of charge for hiking and camping.
“The Wildlands Conservancy applauds Senator McGuire’s effort to secure critical funds to protect 18 miles of the scenic Grand Canyon of the Eel River and catalyze progress on the Great Redwood Trail. The Wildlife Conservation Board’s support for acquisition of the Lone Pine Ranch is the key to protecting wildlife, vibrant forests, and rich wetlands, which significantly advances the State’s vision to protect 30 percent of our lands and waters by 2030. The Wildlands Conservancy is proud to add this nationally significant landscape into its Preserve system for permanent stewardship and development of free public access,” said David Myers, President of The Wildland Conservancy Board of Directors.
Myers called acquisition of the Witter Ranch “a rare opportunity to preserve some of the most breathtaking landscapes in the country.”