A Land of Many Uses
In some ways, Brothers Ranch epitomizes ESF’s land stewardship program: on this one property, we have organic farming, productive wetlands, an outdoor classroom, restored former farmland, high tension electrical transmission lines, a residential house, eucalyptus groves, oak woodlands, and more. Balancing all of these uses and maintaining the amazing biodiversity of these lands is what we work toward every day.
For more information about our education programs at Brothers Ranch’s Outdoor Classroom, located alongside beautiful Carneros Creek, visit our Community page.
With support from California Coastal Conservancy, Packard Foundation.
maritime chaparral, willow-riparian forest, freshwater wetland
Pajaro manzanita, Hooker’s manzanita, Brittle-leaf manzanita
Before: Fire Danger and Invasive Species
Like many places in California, large amounts of blue gum eucalyptus were planted at the Brothers Ranch early in the 20th century. While this seemed like a good idea at the time, the wood proved unsuitable for lumber and the trees eventually became invasive in coastal areas of Central and Northern California.
Due to their tall growth habit (150 feet or more), flammable wood and leaves, and strips of bark and branches that provide a perfect ladder for fire to spread throughout the canopy, eucalyptus trees are a serious fire hazard. As the area developed over time, high tension power lines, houses, and roads were built and the fire risk worsened.
In 2022, ESF received funding from CalFire to remove the first groves of eucalyptus from Brothers Ranch, to reduce wildfire risk and restore native habitat.
After: More Water, Less Wildfire
Removing eucalyptus from Brothers Ranch will do more than reduce fire danger. It will also improve habitat for native plants and animals, increase water availability, and improve views throughout the Carneros Creek corridor. Once these invasive trees are removed, ESF will restore coast live oak woodlands, coastal prairie, and maritime chaparral habitats—as well as freshwater wetlands for endangered California tiger salamanders.
Just like at Elkhorn Highlands Reserve, these eucalyptus logs will then be turned into biochar (a type of charcoal), sequestering their carbon instead of letting it escape into the atmosphere. This biochar will be used as a soil amendment on neighboring organic farm fields and given to partners for water quality and other conservation efforts. Future projects may also include groundwater recharge, conservation grazing, and further wetland restoration on this vibrant and diverse property.
Photo by Mike Kelly