The Silver Spur Ranch

This 1,280-acre ranch in Lake County is in the heart of the National Monument, and includes gorgeous oak woodlands, rare plants, two miles of the North Fork of Cache Creek, and the headwaters of Benmore Canyon. Tuleyome acquired it in 2016.

APN: 016-029-190-000, 016-036-040-000, 016-017-030-000 and 016-016-010-000

From the Lake County News, June 6, 2016:

by Elizabeth Larson

A conservation organization has received a state grant that will allow it to complete the purchase of a 1,280-acre property near Clearlake Oaks that in the near future will be opened up for public use.

At its quarterly meeting on Thursday, the Wildlife Conservation Board approved $17 million in grants for 20 projects that will help restore and protect fish and wildlife habitat throughout California.

Among the grants approved is $440,000 for Woodland-based Tuleyome, which will use the funds to finalize its purchase of the 1,280-acre Silver Spur Ranch.

The purchase is meant to protect a habitat that includes blue oak woodland, riparian areas and chaparral, and to provide for potential future wildlife-oriented public use opportunities, according to the Wildlife Conservation Board's announcement.

It was exciting news for Andrew Fulks, Tuleyome's board president who has been working on the property acquisition over the last three years. Noting the amount of work that went into negotiations, Fulks said, “You kind of have to get all the stars to align.”

Tuleyome has worked on significant wilderness conservation projects around Northern California, most notably successfully promoting the creation of the Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument, which encompasses 330,780 acres managed by federal agencies in Lake, Colusa, Glenn, Mendocino, Napa, Yolo and Solano counties. President Barack Obama used his executive power under the Antiquities Act to create the national monument [in 2015]. The monument was dedicated in March [2016].

Fulks said the Silver Spur Ranch is located almost exactly in the heart of the Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument, in the narrowest area. It is easily accessed off Indian Valley Road, and a mile of the north fork of Cache Creek runs through the property, Fulks said.


He said it will be a boon to Lake County's economy, with an increase in recreation and tourism dollars. It adds another destination for visitors to come and enjoy, and spend money in the county. “We're happy to be a part of that.”

The Sierra Club Redwood Chapter, which has supported Tuleyome's efforts both with the national monument and Silver Spur Ranch, welcomed the news of the grant award. “Tuleyome’s acquisition of the 1,280-acre Silver Spur Ranch builds on last year’s designation of the Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument, which surrounds the property,” said Lower Lake resident and Sierra Club Redwood Chapter Chair Victoria Brandon. “It means that the rare plants and rich wildlife habitat of this amazing place will be maintained and restored, and that hikers, bikers, equestrians and campers will be able to enjoy it – it’s good for the land and good for our community."

Another local organization supporting the project is the East Lake Resource Conservation District. “East Lake RCD is delighted to learn that Tuleyome's purchase of the Silver Spur Ranch has been finalized, and eager to partner on restoration projects such as erosion control and invasive plant eradication,” said the district's president, Charlotte Griswold. “This is the kind of conservation purchase that is critical to preserving sensitive habitat and to maintaining water quality in Cache Creek.”

Fulks said the $440,000 state grant is the balance of the purchase price negotiated with the land's current owners, the City of 10,000 Buddhas, based In Ukiah. “This allows us to close escrow and take ownership of the property,” he said. The total purchase price is $500,000, which was lower than its appraised value and a “bargain sale,” he added.

Fulks said he expects escrow to close within 60 days. Once the sale is concluded, he said Tuleyome plans to get in and work on some management-related issues, in particular, some necessary cleanup of old hunting shacks that have collapsed and abandoned vehicles, installing signage and fences, and analyzing rare plant areas to protect them from impact.

Once those matters are addressed, the organization wants to move forward with opening the land up for people to enjoy, he said. “One of our main principals is if we take public funding for a property acquisition then the public should have some access to the property,” Fulks explained. He said Tuleyome is looking at partnering with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife through its Shared Habitat Alliance for Recreational Enhancement, or SHARE, Program, which supports private owners in allowing for public use of their property.

The SHARE Web site also explains that the program compensates participating landowners with monetary payment and liability protection in exchange for providing access to or through their land for recreational use and enjoyment of wildlife.

Fish and Wildlife will administer that public use – including taking reservations for primitive camping, horseback riding, mountain biking and bird watching – which Fulks said takes the burden off of private landowners.

While most of the uses of the land will be non-motorized activities, Fulks said there is the intent of allowing for some off-highway vehicle, or OHV, use on the far northern part of the property, where fire roads already have been turned into OHV trails.

He said Tuleyome is working with the Bureau of Land Management on a right-of-way for formalized use of that area for OHVs, a plan that is meant to keep riders out of the heart of the property. Fulks added that the organization is all for legal OHV use when it's in an area that doesn't cause disturbance.

Fulks said this latest project builds on the campaign for the national monument and the partnerships it created with other organizations.

“We wanted to show with this that we're really serious in continuing those partnerships and making sure everybody gets a little bit of something,” he said.

He said Tuleyome wants to work with the Back Country Horsemen on camping and multiuse trails, and Audubon for birding opportunities, among others.

Then it will be a matter of encouraging these partner organizations and the public to get out and use the property, he said.

Having people out legitimately using such lands reduces destructive use, Fulks said.

Fulks said the Silver Spur Ranch acquisition and future public use will open up another 3,700 acres of BLM land just west of the ranch itself that was previously landlocked and could only be reached by crossing private property.  Members of the public will now be able to cross the Silver Spur Ranch and enjoy the BLM property, he said.

In addition, the Silver Spur Ranch is near lands in conservation easements, such as one area on the Colusa County side of Walker Ridge, and constitutes a key piece in the center of a landscape that is being preserved.