Bay Hill Ranch is perched on the hills about Bodega Bay with a creek and watershed that supports steelhead and drains into the bay at Cheney Gulch. The ranch was farmed and heavily grazed by sheep for 150 years. Topsoil on the ranch has blown away and been carried down in the mud flats of Bodega Bay by Doran Beach. We have been caring for the ranch since 2015. The valleys of the ranch have gullies that reach 20 feet below the historic flood plains. Tens of thousands of cubic yards of soil have eroded from the valleys of the ranch into the bay. The northern portion of the ranch and creeks are heavily impacted by farming and invasive eucalyptus trees while the southern portion sustains an impressive ecosystem of native plants and wildlife. Bedrock and two sediment capture ponds were built by the RCD in the mid 80’s have helped stop the flow of soils into the bay but there is still much that we are working to do to improve the vegetation, soils and health of the creeks. The springs on the ranch were a stopping ground for Native Americans returning from Bodega Bay with their shellfish harvest. It’s easy to imagine Indians camped by the spring and eating shell fish and thimble berries.
In 2006 there was an effort to turn the ranch into a rock quarry that was stopped by community protest. The ranch infrastructure was ignored and the land was overgrazed by cattle after that until we started work on it in 2015.