Wild and Scenic Gloeckner-Turner Ranch to be Protected Forever

May 29, 2020

Posted in: Press Releases

Wild and Scenic Gloeckner-Turner Ranch to be Protected Forever

3,364-acre ranch boasts significant natural resources and scenic values, offers climate change resilience

SANTA ROSA, CA (May 29, 2020) – Sonoma County Ag + Open Space is pleased to announce the upcoming conservation of Gloeckner-Turner Ranch – a sprawling 3,364-acre property along Rockpile Road near Lake Sonoma – through the purchase of a conservation easement from the Gloeckner-Turner family. The ranch, which has been in the family for decades, is now protected forever from development thanks to combined contributions from the family itself, Ag + Open Space, Sonoma Land Trust, Sonoma Water, and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation. The Gloeckner family, led by twins Robert Gloeckner and Jean Turner, have offered a $4.44 million discount, donating nearly half the value of the easement. Sonoma Land Trust will contribute $500,000, which includes $250,000 from the Moore Foundation and $250,000 from their donors; Sonoma Water offered $15,000; and Ag + Open Space will contribute $4.5 million in public funds toward the discounted purchase price of $5.015 million. The deal is expected to close early next week.

The easement will preserve a highly visible scenic corridor, as well as the property’s diverse habitats that include Oregon white oak and mixed hardwood forest, chaparral, Douglas fir and redwood forest, riparian woodlands, grasslands, and the Wheatfield Fork of the Gualala River. With 29 of the possible developable parcels eliminated, development will be limited to four designated areas clustered near the road so the interior of the ranch remains in open space. The easement will prohibit commercial timber harvest but allow for up to 53 acres of planted vineyard and continued cattle grazing, using best management practices to protect the riparian areas and natural resources.

“We’re so grateful to the Gloeckner family for working with us over the past several years to conserve their family ranch, which represents a real win for both our human and natural communities,” said Fifth District Supervisor Lynda Hopkins, who sits on the Ag + Open Space Board of Directors and whose district includes the ranch. “The mosaic of habitat types across the property are critical for wildlife movement and survival, and the diverse habitats not only provide a stunning landscape for all to enjoy, but also provide opportunities for climate change adaptation and resilience.”

The ranch has been in the Gloeckner family since the 1970s and was originally a sheep ranch that is now used for cattle grazing and as a family retreat. Views looking west over the property are stunning and the interior offers similarly spectacular views of multiple ridgelines. The ranch also boasts rare serpentine hardwood areas and serpentine grasslands.

Joining nearly 40,000 acres of public and/or protected lands in the immediate area, nearly all of the property is identified by the Conservation Lands Network as “essential” or “important” to protect biological diversity in the Bay Area. The ranch is part of a network of wildlife corridors that crisscross Sonoma County and allow wildlife to move safely through the landscape, with these critical habitat corridors linking habitat in western Marin to Lake Sonoma and beyond. The wildlife linkages, the varied elevations, and the large habitat “transition zones” on this property offer a wide variety of opportunities to adapt to climate change by allowing both flora and fauna to move in response to climatic shifts.
In addition to the numerous springs and waterfalls scattered throughout the ranch, the headwaters of the Wheatfield Fork of the Gualala River run northwest 2.1 miles through the property, and 3.6 miles of the headwaters of Rancheria Creek run south into Lake Sonoma. The Gualala River is an anadromous stream with threatened steelhead trout and Lake Sonoma supplies drinking water to cities and towns throughout Sonoma County.

“While Ag + Open Space protected this property because of its vast natural resources and scenic landscapes, we were also able to allow for agricultural use on the ranch through continued cattle grazing and up to 53 acres of planted vineyards,” said Louisa Morris, a Land Acquisition Specialist with Ag + Open Space. “We are always so thrilled to work on these types of projects where we can achieve multiple benefits on one property – protection of water and wildlife resources, preservation of unique scenic landscapes, continued agricultural use, and resiliency to climate change.”

The Gloeckner-Turner Ranch has been long been on land conservationists’ radar, with the expectation that the purchase price would be significant given the property’s size, development potential, and the values of other properties in the area. Last year, Ag + Open Space was working to reach agreement on a purchase price that met the landowners’ needs while staying within budget. Fortunately, Sonoma Land Trust was willing and able to make a pivotal contribution toward the purchase that helped consummate the deal. Through the work of their staff and with the agreement of their board, they made the unprecedented move to put $250,000 from their Land Protection Fund into the ground. Additionally, they brought in the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation to match their commitment.

“We were so pleased to provide the additional funds to get this project over the finish line,” said conservation director Wendy Eliot. “This is a phenomenal deal for the people of Sonoma County, which will provide numerous natural benefits for generations to come.”

The Gloeckners are an active local family with deep roots in Sonoma County. With several firefighters in the extended family, the Gloeckners plan to work with CAL FIRE to implement a forest management plan that will include fuels management and prescribed burning. The family also agreed to sell the conservation easement at a 47% discount and to allow up to four public tours annually, in coordination with Sonoma Water.

“We are very happy to partner with Ag + Open Space to protect our family ranch in perpetuity. Having the privilege to own such a large and beautiful ranch comes with a special responsibility to always conserve and protect the property and maintain open space to the extent possible,” said the Gloeckner Turner family. “The easement will provide the protection the ranch deserves while allowing agriculture to provide for family financial sustainability. We offer many thanks to Ag+ Open Space, including all of the funding partners and Supervisor Lynda Hopkins for facilitating the negotiation of the easement.”

About Sonoma County Ag + Open Space
Sonoma County Ag + Open Space permanently protects the diverse agricultural, natural resource and scenic open space lands of Sonoma County for future generations. The agency is responsible for the perpetual protection of over 118,000 acres of land throughout our region. These agricultural and open space lands are protected through a quarter-cent sales tax approved by voters in 1990 and reauthorized in 2006. For more information, please visit www.sonomaopenspace.org.

About Sonoma Land Trust
Sonoma Land Trust believes land is the heart of the community and that when the land is healthy, the community is healthy. Since 1976, Sonoma Land Trust has protected more than 50,000 acres of scenic, natural, agricultural and open land for future generations. Sonoma Land Trust is the recipient of the National Land Trust Excellence Award 2019 by the Land Trust Alliance and is accredited by the Land Trust Accreditation Commission. For more information, please visit www.sonomalandtrust.org.