A Vision of Conservation
In 1959, the Angelos were at a crossroads. They owned 3,100 acres of old-growth Douglas-fir forest, but a new California law forced property owners to pay taxes on the value of their timber whether or not they chose to harvest it.
For 28 years the family had been buying up forest in Mendocino to protect it from being logged, but suddenly they found themselves in danger of losing their land if they resisted logging.
The Angelos refused to cut down their trees. That’s when they approached TNC.
A Forest and a Home
Though TNC had never purchased land west of the Mississippi, we worked with the Angelos to design a life estate, or deal that would establish the land as a protected nature reserve while allowing the family to continue to live on it for generations.
Over the next 35 years, TNC and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management increased the size of the reserve to 7,500 acres. In 1994 TNC transferred its lands to the University of California’s Natural Reserve System.
Since that first California purchase, TNC has protected over a million acres in the state and facilitated the protection of 3.8 million acres of ocean habitat off our coast.
A Haven for People and Nature
Today, the Angelo Coast Range Reserve harbors the state’s largest remaining old-growth Douglas-fir forest, providing habitat for spotted owls, gray foxes and black bears. River otters play along the banks of the Eel River, which runs through the property, and salmon and steelhead spawn in its streams.
“My grandfather’s love for the north woods rubbed off on me,” says Peter Steel, reserve manager and grandson of Heath Angelo. He’s the only one of his generation to exercise his right to the life estate established by his grandfather. As his work as reserve manager attests, he didn’t just go to the property to live there; he went to preserve the forest his grandparents fought for.