March 2024



“Good things take time. Better things take a little longer.”

Sanhita Baruah, The Art of Healing: Notes for Life

MLT Projects In Development

Looking South

Much of MLT's daily work happens unseen by the public, and it can take months or even years for this effort to become visible when a new trail opens, a conservation easement is established, or an endangered species is protected.

The culmination of these sorts of projects may get a brief mention in the news, but the run-up to the grand opening requires ongoing hard work, grant-writing, patience, cooperation of many agencies, persistence in the face of setbacks, and support from people like you!

We are grateful to all our volunteers and supporters, particularly those who understand the ongoing needs to keep the trails open, well-

maintained, and safe. We here at MLT want to share what you will see happening in southern Mendocino County because of our efforts, and the future is bright!

Take a look at some of our current development projects that we're taking on at the moment.

Saunders Landing - MLT To Acquire Ownership!

An important step forward is happening with our Saunders Landing project, about 12 acres of land situated between Hearn Gulch and a Caltrans vista point, south of the city of Point Arena. Caltrans is acquiring this property for MLT and will restore the coastal prairie by removing invasive plants such as the ice plants, which cover most of the western headlands. MLT is about to take title to this land and will be moving forward with the planning of a new trail, adding approximately 0.4 miles of new coastal trail across the Landing.

The State Coastal Conservancy funded the required environmental studies, including archaeological and biological surveys. The Conservancy also supported the staff time needed to prepare permit applications and establish trail layout and designs.

The property will continue the state’s and MLT’s work to connect publicly accessible trails. In this case, it will add to the California Coastal Trail in southern Mendocino County, connecting Hearn Gulch to the Caltrans vista and, eventually, Schooner Gulch State Beach.

The Landing includes a perennial, class II stream—Hearn Gulch—and associated high-quality riparian habitats. It is three-quarters wetlands and contains sensitive upland plant communities that include coastal terrace prairie, northern bishop pine, northern coastal scrub, and coastal bluff scrub. It is also habitat for sensitive animal species, including the Sonoma tree vole (Arborimus pomo), shoulderband snails, and cormorant species. 

Owning Saunders Landing will help MLT deliver its mission of conserving and restoring habitat, protecting scenic areas, and providing public access.

Arena Cove - Tiny Trail, Big Plans!

Good things can come in small packages!

MLT is planning for a 0.3-mile trail to Arena Cove. While relatively short, it is significant in that it is an important connection between two popular public locations in Point Arena

Now in the planning stages, the proposed trail would connect Arena Cove to the Bureau of Land Management’s Point Arena-Stornetta Unit of the California Coastal National Monument; the planning process is supported by a grant from the State Coastal Conservancy. 

The trail project is located in the Arena Cove Historic District within the city of Point Arena and will be accessible thanks to a public access easement to be recorded with Mendocino County to ensure perpetual public use.

Arena Cove and the Point Arena-Stornetta Unit are popular destinations for visitors and locals alike. In addition to linking the two properties, the project would be a key addition to the California Coastal Trail.

Once designs are finalized and permits and additional grant funding are secured, the project will proceed to construction. The Mendocino Land Trust will manage this new trail along with its other public trails to ensure it is safe and maintained.

Moat Creek - Embracing A Popular Beach

The Mendocino Land Trust is stepping up to maintain a public access trail and beach that are favorites among those who love to surf and explore the Northern California coast. The Moat Creek Management Agency has successfully cared for the trail and beach for decades. MLT agreed to take over the trail maintenance and management of Moat Creek with support from the SCC.

In taking on this task, MLT has agreed to coordinate trail maintenance by monitoring the property monthly and weed-eating vegetation as needed, as well as trash cleanup and fencing and tread repair. The work will be funded by the California State Coastal Conservancy, which owns the property.

The Moat Creek site consists of about 3 acres of coastal property located 2.5 miles south of Point Arena in Mendocino County.  Its trail offers the Point Arena community and visitors access to the popular surfing beach as well as a wheelchair-accessible, single-unit restroom. A gravel parking lot provides off-street parking and access to a scenic half-mile loop trail along the coastal bluff between Moat and Ross Creeks. 

Please Welcome

New Board Member

Jeanette Boyer

Jeanette has held a variety of jobs over the years including as an educator, a writer, and

a bookseller.

Her published novel, Junkyard Dreams, dealt with the conflict over land development in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where she lived with her now deceased husband for almost 30 years.

Having returned to California in 2013, she is grateful to belong to a community of

people keen on protecting their incredibly beautiful


“The outdoors is where I find solace and renewal. Now more than ever, I believe we

have an obligation to do what we can to preserve our environment for everyone’s benefit.”

Conserving A Piece

Of Mendocino History

MLT recently obtained funding to acquire a conservation easement on the James Ranch, which once included the historic town of Sherwood. For more about this easement and its significance, click here.

Stella’s Story - James Ranch's Matriarch

by Robb Lightfoot & Sean O'Rourke, photos courtesy Kevin and Judy Schulz

The old saying, “They don’t make them like that anymore” is a fitting tribute to the life of Stella James, a woman who could feed 40 cowhands and then walk out the door to break and train a string of horses all by herself. 

Stella’s great nephew, Kevin Schulz, said that just a week before she died at age 97, Stella was working alongside him helping him load his truck with firewood.

“Stella and I would walk the property to check fences and check cattle, and she would never leave the house without her .38 Smith & Wesson, as long as she lived.”

Stella died in April of 2013, but it was her wish that her beloved ranch, west of Willits, be cared for even after her passing. Since then, her family has continued to keep the land as a working ranch and honor her wishes. In December of 2023, her descendants, collaborating with the Mendocino Land Trust, received a grant that will allow the James Ranch to be protected in perpetuity much as it is now thanks to a conservation easement. 

Conrad Kramer, executive director of MLT, says that both he and the landowners are “overjoyed” with the grant and “extremely grateful” to the grantor, California’s Strategic Growth Council. 

Included in this grant were the funds to conserve almost 1,300 acres that constitute the unique and picturesque landscape known as James Ranch. MLT believes it is appropriate that the ranch was selected for protection. 

James Ranch has been in commercial agricultural production since the 1800s. The ranch is comprised of mixed Douglas fir and redwood forests, oak woodlands, annual grassland, and mixed chaparral. It is a gem situated in the Sherwood Valley.

But a ranch isn't really a ranch unless it is being worked, and the work is hard. It takes a special kind of person to be out there, year after year, every day no matter what the weather. Stella James was such a tough, can-do, and inventive person.

The Willits News wrote in June of 2013 an article celebrating her life. In that article, she was described as a “topnotch cowhand,” able to mend fences, haul hay, and do all that was required on a working cattle ranch — including feeding and branding cattle. She often fed large gatherings of cowhands and was “used to hauling water and washing dishes over a campfire.” A goodly part of her life-story was in a world without the conveniences of running water or electricity. 

She was a no-nonsense person when it came to debt — she would have none of it. If she couldn’t afford to buy things with cash, she would improvise or do without.

But Stella knew how to have fun, too. She loved riding in parades, and it was in one such parade, while still in school, that she met her future husband, Edgar. They both knew “right away” that they were drawn to one another. They were married shortly after she graduated from Willits High School in August 1933. Over their years in rodeo — a passion and a pastime both she and Edgar shared - Stella racked up many awards. She was top cattlewoman of 1937 in the five-county area that includes Mendocino, and in 1948 she was the Fortuna Redwood Rodeo Queen.

And while all this effort made for long days, Stella still found time to exercise her substantial skills as an artist. The Willits News article noted her contributions to the Frontier Days events.  “I used to draw all of the pictures for the posters,” she said. “I once drew a life-size bucking Brahma bull on a plywood back.” The artwork was used to promote the rodeo. Later, in 2000, Stella designed a belt-buckle for the same Frontier Days events. She was 84 years old.

Much of what is known about the ranch’s history is because Stella passed it on, and her great nephew remembers her storytelling style. 

“Anytime her friends or family took Stella into town as she got older, she would start talking and literally never stop until she got back home,” Schulz said. “It was a rare occasion if you got a word in. She would point here and there, often touching your nose with her hand as she swung it to and fro, telling you where this person lived, their names, the names of their children, where the grist mills were, where old man so-and-so had his accident, and so much more. She had a photographic memory. Friends and neighbors would send her packets of old pictures for her to identify.”   

In addition to her oral histories, she drew a large picture, from her own memory, that depicted a map of Sherwood, which once stood on the James Ranch. The town sat directly alongside the railway, and it boasted a hardware store and general store.

Stella knew and lived so much of the history of her ranch, but her life was not confined by its boundaries. She was able to get out and see the world. According to her great nephew, she traveled to Alaska, seeking adventure everywhere she went. When she visited Australia, she took a rafting trip, adding those experiences to her rich repertoire of stories.

So many stories. So many memories. Stella was a tireless force of nature who combined hard work, wit, grit, and a passion for the land to craft an amazing life. She will be long remembered by those who knew, respected, and cherished her. And the James Ranch that bears her name will carry on in a way that honors its rich history and natural beauty. It will continue to do her proud as a working ranch, conserved and protected for all time thanks to her descendants and MLT.

Wildlife Wednesdays With Mike Heine

We know what you like!

Critters, large and small, picque our curiosity and fill us with wonder. When you're out on the trail, and you come across something crawling, slithering, about.

Michael Heine

You may wonder... "What the heck is that?"

So, in the spirit of answering questions you didn't even know to ask, we are offering here, on our website, and in our social media, "Wildlife Wednesdays."

Join MLT as we welcome field biologist and contributing author, Michael Heine, for a weekly look at the fauna of Mendocino county.

Mike's background makes him well suited to this task. He is a lead field botanist with the California Native Plant Society, and his LinkedIn page notes that he is committed to using his skills to develop "new understandings of natural systems to restore native habitats."

His first article for MLT features the redwood sideband snail. You can read it here.

And if you come across something that you've seen while you're out and about, email us a picture! We'll pass it along to Mike and see what he thinks.

On The Job In Mill Bend

MLT was hired by the Redwood Coast Land Conservancy to provide technical assistance at their Mill Bend Preserve in Gualala.

In February, MLT's Nicolet Houtz and Anna Bride oversaw 12 volunteers from the California Conservation Corps to remove fuel to reduce the risk of fire.

Join a Great Team!

MLT Board Has Openings

MLT is seeking to expand its Board of Trustees and encourages applicants from diverse backgrounds who can help our Board evolve to reflect the diversity of Mendocino County.

Click here for details.

Important Dates

MLT's 2nd Saturday Hare Creek workday, 3/9/24 10 a.m. - Noon

We really, really, really welcome your help! Whatever time you can arrive or need depart, your efforts at Hare Creek are appreciated! We meet at the end of the Mendocino College parking lot (look for Lenny's blue Forester), and wander across the field to the trail.  Please arrive by 10:00 a.m. Bring water, gloves, and your favorite tool(s), or borrow one of ours. Perhaps bring a rain jacket and/or umbrella.

NOTE: is currently predicting rain in the morning, with it dropping to 18% chance right when our work hours begin. This likely translates to no rain, but... I will be there! If it's drizzly, there are places one can work on the trail that are more protected than others. If it turns to a heavy rain, well, we will call it a day. Questions? Click here for specifics.

Farm Grant Program Deadline 3/15/2024

The Farm Grant Program supports economic development and food security in Mendocino and Lake counties by funding capacity-building projects on small farms. When small farms are successful the result is a strong local food system and a resilient agricultural community, capable of facing ongoing challenges such as the Covid-19 pandemic and the impacts of wildfires and climate change. Click here for information and application instructions.

Farmer's Convergence - 3/19/2024

Celebrate the arrival of spring at the 2024 North Coast Farmers Convergence, themed "(Re-)Building Our Local Food Web," on Tuesday, March 19th from 8 am to 4 pm at Ridgewood Ranch, 11700 Orchard Lane, Willits, CA 95490. The event offers a day filled with inspiration and insights from local farmers and others actively shaping the local food ecosystem. Attendees will enjoy a light breakfast and a hearty farm-fresh lunch, with an optional mixer featuring locally crafted mocktails and hors d'oeuvres from 4 pm to 5 pm. Tickets are available on a sliding scale, allowing participants to set their own price, and generosity is appreciated in support of this community-driven initiative. MLT will be there, come by and say hello! For information, click here. To register, click here.

Earth Day @ Noyo Food 4/20/2024,10 am

Information available at this link.

Be A Business Sponsor!

Join those businesses that see the many benefits of supporting MLT. Here's a shout-out link to recognize the many businesses who have found it helps the community, the environment, and their business by helping MLT.

Here's a rundown on the perks of being a partner.

Interested? Contact us at

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