Land Conservation Plan
OVERALL: One of the most exciting aspects of acquiring the ranch was, in fact, the opportunity to engage in a personally directed, large-scale conservation effort. The 500+ acres of Sei Querce provides a wide range a bio-systems and habitats from commercially farmed vineyards on the valley floor to an undisturbed year round blue-line creek flowing through a nearly in accessible canyon of undisturbed oaks, firs, pines, bays and madrones. The prior owners told of a time earlier in their lives when the ranch land was populated with a diverse range of larger wild animals including bears, wolves, hogs, wild turkeys, deer and even moose. Sadly, today, only a few deer and the wild turkey remain. They recounted of regularly fishing in the year round stream. Today, no fish remain. Looking ahead, how much we can achieve as an island of bio-civility remains to be seen since we are surrounded by energized bio-hostility. Still, it is our fervent aspiration to help Sei Querce return at least part way back to a more natural and balanced ecology.
VALLEY FLOOR: Two blue-line streams descend from the surrounding hills and converge to form our western property border of nearly 2400 feet on the valley floor. The creek is a seasonal tributary to the Russian River locally called Fay Creek. Recognizing that uninterested neighbors own much of the central channel of the creek, we have relocated 1600 feet of adjoining vineyard road in order to establish a substitute riparian corridor, even though it would be more naturally centered on the creek channel itself. Establishing the creekside riparian corridor and relocated road comes at the cost of reduced plantable acreage, a cost we consider fair when the balance of our larger natural environment is considered.
In conjunction with the road relocation, we undertook a creek restoration project for another 1500 feet of creek where the creek does lie entirely within our boundaries. This investment is targeted at repairing the erosion and damage inflicted by indelicate farming practices of the past.
In the course of these two projects, we removed six buildings, all of which layed within zero to 15 feet from the creek bank. Wood from four of the buildings (including a 100 year old barn) was carefully reclaimed for use on later projects. A bridge was installed over one section of creek to avoid continued use of two wet crossings in the creek by farm vehicles. Pursuing the protection of the creeks was highly education as it required multiple engineering specialities and approvals from four jurisdictional regulators with little incentive to coordinate their viewpoints.
HILLSIDE: Above the valley floor are 460 acres of rolling hillsides that ascend from 250 to 1300 feet. These hills are crossed by about five miles of farm roads. At the time of purchase, the roads were in serious disrepair and were the source of considerable unnecessary erosion. Through nearly all of the dry season of 2011 and 2012, we re-graded the roads to provide appropriate run-off control, installed rock-line drainage ditches where needed, added or replaced uncountable culvert crossings, repaired numerous wet crossing, and applied a new indigenous road base to nearly all of the farm roads. Importantly, to provision the creek and road work, we have been able to source all of the roadbase and rock material on-site by opening two quarries on the property. Both quarries are visually secluded and have provided significant environmental benefits over remote excavation and distant transportation..
Biotic and Water Conservation Plans
Beyond our efforts taken and under way to restore and protect the land assets of Sei Querce, conservation attention has also been turned to various biotic resources. Nearly 75 mature oak, elder, bay, black walnut and madrone trees have been variously pruned and health assessed. These trees are a major heritage of the ranch and serve as a backbone for significant habitat restoration. Dangerously weak or diseased trees were removed and other trees will be cabled to preserve their majestic and biologically valuable canopies.
When any tree is felled, whether because of disease or structural weakness, it is assessed as for potential re-use in our prospective building projects. As the trees are felled they are partially milled into cants and dry stored, pending final milling specs. Use of our on-site timber will range from structural beams and posts to paddock and garden fences. Approximately 50 cants have been prepared.
The original system of two natural hillside springs that provide all the domestic and some of the irrigation water has been completely redeveloped and expanded to an interconnected system of four springs. Spring water storage has been expanded by nearly 60,000 gallons to maximize capture of all excess spring production.