Like many people in Shasta County, I was thrilled to learn recently of the preservation of the Parkville Ranch with a conservation easement administered through the Shasta Land Trust. As the Ranch could otherwise be sold for development purposes at a much higher price, this action amounts to a large gift to the public and to the future from owner Sandy DuBose. How does someone come to such a decision, and what are the values behind it?
It turns out this is not the first time the DuBose family has donated land for the benefit of the public. As you drive south on Parkville Road, you pass a well-tended cemetery which Sandy and her husband Dave (who died in 2008) expanded with a 5-acre donation. The impressive stone wall bordering it was developed by neighbor Rich Morgan, an example of what Sandy calls “community-sharing farm values” that she is hoping to project into the future with the ranch.
Sandy and Dave bought the 272-acre ranch in 1970 when it was in a state of disrepair and had a “Depression look.” Dave was born in Nelson, a farming community near Durham in Butte County, and had a strong farming background. Sandy was born in Berkeley but moved with her parents at age 9 near Weaverville, where she was allowed to roam freely through the forests and streams. She is a strong believer in “wholesome outdoor activities,” and offered this quote from Chrysalis Charter School Principal Paul Krafel: “Living in wilderness and nature creates the conservationist.” She also cites the works of Henry David Thoreau and John Muir as strong influences.
After attaining her nursing degree, she married Dave and they began a 44-year commitment to bring the Parkville Ranch back to life, with crops that included alfalfa, corn, and grains. The land also currently supports a herd of 60 cattle. Along the way, they operated a boys camp on the site for five years, with teenagers from as far away as San Francisco. Activities included riding and caring for 10 horses, working the garden and building projects, swimming every day, and trips to Lassen Park. Dave also used the ranch for educational field trips for his Shasta College students, and Sandy plans to re-name the ranch the David DuBose Nature Preserve in honor of her husband. Similar continuing educational opportunities will continue as part of the conservation easement.
In considering the conservation easement option, Sandy realized that her three children will have a greater opportunity to enjoy the ranch if it were forever protected by a conservation easementthan they would if it were sold. The ranch has been the anchor of the community for many years, and boasts a prime agricultural soils, water, irrigated and grazing lands and historical sites, according to SLT Executive Director Ben Miles. It is a special place built on hard work and resourcefulness, and conveys an appreciation for art and nature. For more information on the Shasta Land Trust, including the dedication ceremony of the David DuBose Nature Preserve on April 6th, please visit www.shastalandtrust.org.
Click here for details on the Parkville Ranch dedication ceremony.
Tom O’Mara is an owner-builder of a solar home in Olinda, where he lives with his wife, Alice. He retired from the Shasta County Office of Education last June, and is the former director of the Youth Violence Prevention Council of Shasta County. He also managed a $4.5 million federal grant, the REMEDY Project, for the Redding School District, which operated for 5 years on a 3-year budget. He, like Guy Noir, seeks answers to life’s persistent questions.