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Jenner Jottings - Tim McKusick - September 2015


Jenner Jottings - Tim McKusick - September 2015

2015 marks several Community Anniversaries on the North Coast including The Sea Ranch & Timber Cove’s 50th and Gualala Ranch’s 45th.

The Sea Ranch, covering 4,000 oceanfront, meadow and forested acres along 10 miles of Coast Highway 1, extending up to the Sonoma/Mendocino County line was born of the idealistic values of the 1960’s. Simple wood and shingle-clad shed roof structures nestled into the windswept hedgerows and rock outcroppings were built with a creed of living light on the land. Over these 50 years it has grown into a community of over 1800 homes and is a popular destination for vacationers from around the world.

With its multiple swimming pools and tennis courts and miles of (well maintained) trails, along with access to several amazing, immaculate North Coast Beaches, property owners and their visitors enjoy a world-class recreational paradise.

Timber Cove, a 500-acre development running from the ocean up into the redwood forests began as Richard Clements’ dream for a utopian artists’ colony on the rugged Sonoma Coast. He enlisted the help of such famous artists as Ansel Adams and sculptor Beniamino “Benny” Bufano in promoting his North Coast dream. Budding photographers who attended Adams’ photography seminars at the (new) Timber Cove Inn were given Clements’ Timber Cove property sales brochures with Ansel Adams black & white photographs of coastal scenes pasted inside of them.

Bufano, who was known for his smoothly-rounded sculptures of animals and simplified human shapes and his large-scale monuments representing Peace, installed one of his last works “Peace” on the rock outcropping overlooking the ocean next to the Timber Cove Inn. It is now owned by the State of California and has the distinction of being the State’s smallest State Park.

Property owners in Timber Cove are celebrating their 50 year anniversary with a renewed commitment to maintaining and improving their private interior trails systems while stepping up their efforts of creating a fire-safe community in their urban-wildland interface. The Timber Cove County Water District is making upgrades needed to keep this vital coastal (domestic and firefighting) water resource ready for any emergency.

Gualala Ranch, located inland between Timber Cove and Cazadero truly embraced the back-to-the-land movement of the 60’s and 70’s. Living and raising families on Forty acre parcels accessed over a series of remote winding roads took a dedication to a simple hardier lifestyle. Neighbors helped neighbors; resources were shared and the rural community thrived, embracing their self-reliance. Except for more solar power installations and nicer homes replacing the old farm houses, Gualala Ranch still remains a quiet, remote part of this county.

But a drive through this area today will show you that one thing has changed; the neighboring hills and valleys of the Gualala Ranch are awash in swaths of green, a contrast against the dry brown hills, as they are filling up with vineyards. The cool coastal influences create perfect conditions for grape growing. And this long-ago logged out region could use the boost to the local economy. But at what cost?

As these north coast communities mark their anniversaries and more people discover this paradise so close to the Bay Area, we find ourselves struggling to maintain a balance with our environment while further stretching our finite natural resources.