Unlike many other parts of California, the northern coastal portion where the ranch is situated averages 78 inches of rainfall per year. Most of this rain falls between October and May, so the challenges of irrigating pasture in this part of the state are unique. In addition to the plentiful rain, there is also a significant amount of manure-rich wastewater generated from cleaning the barns and milking parlor. This nitrogen-rich wastewater is stored and treated throughout the year to use as fertilizer for the pasture during the drier summer months. By recycling the wastewater generated by the dairy, the pastures are kept lush without the addition of any commercial fertilizers. Completed in 2007, the above ground tank used to store and treat the wastewater is the first of its kind in California.
Salmon Habitat Restoration
The Smith River runs adjacent to the ranch and is a large part of the property’s identity. Annual runs of coho salmon, steelhead, and other salmonids have historically provided bountiful fishing; however, massive flooding in the 1950s and 1960s led to a dramatic change in the river’s topography. A deep pool near the property had become filled in with gravel. This pool had provided a resting place for the fish to wait for rain when the river depth was too shallow to progress upstream. To restore this pool in the least disruptive manner possible, gravel was carefully excavated and used to repair and stabilize the river bar. Completed in 2004, this project has successfully aided in increasing the number of salmonids in the Smith River. This project was monitored by Galea Wildlife Consulting with permitting completed with the California Department of Fish and Game, the U.S. Army Corps. of Engineers, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the National Marine Fisheries Service, the Regional Water Quality Control Board, and the County of Del Norte.