Each time you drive east from Redding to Lassen Volcanic National Park you pass a quaint ranch in the meadows near Viola. Like me, you may pause to admire the peaceful beauty of this house in the woods. Florence Davis is the granddaughter of the original owners who built and managed the ranch from 1916 to 1964. Florence remembers helping out with everything from building a water tower to feeding chickens.
The ranch holds a special place in her heart. Florence says, “To Mom and Dad, the ranch became a sanctuary. We all loved to go there. Dad and I would fish in Bailey Creek when it had water, which was often. He taught me how to fly fish. Grandma would fry the fish for breakfast.”
The 193-acre Hootman Ranch is near Viola in Shasta County. Florence’s grandparents, Fred and Vivian Hootman, built the small farm house on the ranch and used the brand ‘Bar 76’ for their cattle. Florence always wondered why her grandmother got up so early in the morning; years later, she figured out that the kitchen stove was also the water heater. And even though her grandparents eventually put in a small electric range and water heater, her grandmother continued to use the old stove.
The Hootman Ranch is built along the spring-fed Bailey Creek with stunning views of Mt. Lassen. The clear cold riffles and ponds of the creek are full of fish and aquatic life. The streamside canopy of alders and oaks host a lively variety of wildlife and bird species.
Florence’s mother, Emma Mae Stroup, had a vision for this property. Emma wanted to ensure that the ranch was protected and would forever remain open for grazing and wildlife habitat. She began working with the Shasta Land Trust nearly a decade ago to preserve her ranch. Her children, Florence Davis and Robert Stroup, carried out their mother’s wishes and have recently remarked that the preservation of the ranch gives peace of mind to the family.
The Shasta Land Trust is very grateful to the Davis and Stroup families for realizing their mother’s dream of protecting this special place. The mission of the Shasta Land Trust is to conserve the beauty, character, and diversity of significant lands in far northern California. The Land Trust works with willing landowners, partners, and communities to protect water and wildlife habitat, working agricultural lands, recreation and open space, and scenic values. To date, the Land Trust has conserved nearly 24,000 acres and is currently working on projects that will conserve another 33,000 acres.
How to learn more and get involved: The Shasta Land Trust invites you to its annual Wildways Kickoff, on Saturday, February 27. This is the launch of a series of events connecting people and places. Join us to support local conservation and mix and mingle with friends and supporters from across the North State. You will be treated to delicious food by BC Catering featuring Prather Ranch Beef and will enjoy local wines and craft brew. Check out our website shastalandtrust.org or call the office at 530.241.7886 for more information.
Anne Murphy is Executive Director of the Shasta Land Trust. She has a life-long passion for land conservation, the great outdoors, and music – she is a gifted pianist. You can contact her at email@example.com.