Modini Ranch: Preservation and discovery

March 5, 2020

Posted in: News Articles

Modini Ranch: Preservation and discovery

Modini Ranch is a 1,725-acre property in north east Sonoma County. The original landowners, Jim and Shirley Modini, preserved their property in 2000, primarily for protection of wildlife habitat. Upon their passing, and in an act of great generosity, they donated the property to conservation non-profit, Audubon Canyon Ranch. The land is now home to scientific studies and habitat restoration projects. 

Jim and Shirley lived on the ranch for the entirety of their marriage – 66 years in total! Originally, the property belonged to Jim’s aunt and uncle, Theresa and Timothy Ingalls, who homesteaded there in 1852.

Modini Ranch and another protected land, McCord Ranch North, make up the Modini Mayacamas Preserves and are part of a complex of contiguous protected land totaling over 12,600 acres, supporting a diversity of plant and animal species, including many native plants.

Since 2004, Modini Ranch has burned in both the Geysers and Kindcade fires. During the Geysers fire, an Ag + Open Space staffer, who knew the Modini’s personally, helped protect and save their home on the property. After both fires, Ag + Open Space staff worked with the landowners to assess their recovery needs and help connect them to resources. Now, Modini is helping us to better understand the impacts of wildfires, and how they can benefit natural lands. 

On a recent monitoring trip, one of our Stewardship staff found a cute new friend – a red-bellied newt! These little newts:

  • Are predominantly found in Sonoma, Mendocino, Lake, and Humboldt counties;
  • Have a brownish-black topside to avoid being noticed, but if they are disturbed, they pull their heads and tails back to reveal their bright-red undersides to serve as a warning to potential predators;
  • Have enough of a neurotoxin, tetrodotoxin, in their skin to easily kill an adult human, or 7,500 mice;
  • Have the ability to regenerate several body parts (like other newts), including their limbs, eyes, hearts, and more.

Nature is wild, and we’re proud to be a part of keeping it that way!

For more about Modini, check out this 2013 Press Democrat article that dives into the history of the property, and why it’s still so important today (and beyond) here >>