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You can’t talk about living in Sonoma Country without talking about the issue of fire. Big Dream Ranch has been very fortunate to have not been touched by any of the fires in the County.

The Ranch borders Lake Sonoma so is considered part of the Lake Sonoma Watershed”. The significance of this is:

  • Lake Sonoma/Dry Creek Fire Dept. and several other environmental Agencies have been very proactive in holding educational sessions for those of us in the watershed. Their goal is to help us understand how to fortify and protect our property from fire risk. Lake Sonoma provides water to over 600,000 households. 

Our properties, particularly if structures burn, would create runoff to the Lake Sonoma that would toxic to the intended public water use of the dam.

  • It is in their best interest, and ours, to have our properties maintained to prevent this from happening. This also means that during fire events, the Fire departments are particularly aware and watchful of our properties. They maintain a very vigilant eye and patrol heavily in areas surrounding the watershed including our local Old Skaggs Springs Road. 

  • Being this close to Lake Sonoma also makes it easier for planes to access water for drops on our properties nearby, if necessary.

  • In order to maintain a property that poses less fire risk, we have created a number of grazing pastures in our “compound” that surround our buildings. We have 3 goats and 4 sheep whose sole purpose is the make sure brush and debris are minimized. A variety of pastures lets us rotate their grazing throughout the year.

  • All the roofs of the structures on the Ranch are metal. This prevents ash and particularly embers from catching fire on the buildings.

  • There are fire sprinklers installed on top of the roof of the Main House to be able to wet down the house and particularly the surrounding deck.

  • A sump pump is available at the pool to be able to pump water out if necessary.

  • We have a “water wagon” available at all times which carries a 250-gallon water tank along with commercial fire hoses and pump on a wheeled trailer that can be moved around as needed.

  • Periodically we have hired professional tree trimmers to prune the large oaks within our compound, so weight, health, and skirt height are maintained. PGE also inspects all of our trees near power lines on a regular basis, and is responsible for maintaining those trees in accordance with fire safety and electrical lines.

  • As mentioned in the Land & Wood section, we invested in an NTMP ( Non-Industrial Timber Management Permit) that goes with the property. It required extensive water, soil, timber, and ecological surveying to qualify for the Permit. Recently the County has offered a variety of programs, to help property owners like ourselves, take advantage of clearing and analysis options that are tied to helping reduce the cost of those efforts and subsequent fire risk. Having an NTMP is very beneficial when applying for these programs.

Fire Issues
  • Being in the Coastal mountains of Sonoma County, this property has different weather conditions than the Sonoma County Hwy 101 valley corridor or the eastern hills and mountain range. We typically get more rain, an average of 30 - 50 inches per year. 

  • Because the “compound” part of the property sits in a bowl-like area, we tend to get much less wind at 900 ft than the tops of the ridge or our neighbor's properties that face west.

  • We are somewhat more protected from the severe impact of high winds. Our wind pattern also favors a northwest to southeast direction. 

  • So far, at least, the red flag days here have been much less severe than in other parts of the County.

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