George Ranch Calendar

Christmas Eve 2009
Trees have been the theme of this journal of late. Late December provided another illustration of how fragile our environment can be and how we need to care for it.

On December 24th, just as light was failing, a tree fell on Hawks Beard. This was a sudden occurrence, since someone had driven through less than half an hour prior.

Within minutes, at least six vehicles were stopped on either side of the downed tree. Also within minutes, James, the Ranch Manager was on the scene cutting off offending tree limbs to remove the obstruction. The collaborative effort between James and the occupants of the stopped cars resulted in the road being cleared in less than one hour. This was a splendid community effort and this Board member personally witnessed members of the Gnoss, Cameron, Pang, Kerrigan and Needleman household and their guests all pitch in.

Ironically, had it not been Christmas Eve, Hawks Beard would simply not have been so busy, and the discovery may have been much later, or even the day after, just in time for the start of the morning commute.

Apart from engendering good spirit for the Holidays and providing entertaining dinner conversation, the event once again reminds us of our responsibility to our trees and our neighbors. There is a twenty-five foot easement on either side of ranch roads, within which area, the GRCA has historically taken care of fallen or falling trees. Beyond those limits, within the homeowner's property, the homeowner is responsible. On this occasion, it was just a fallen tree. Next time, it could result in a casualty, as happened on Highway 12 a couple of years ago. Please make sure you are not exposed to anything worse than a bill for tree trimming.

Early Autumn, 2009
Autumn. The word evokes brisker mornings, shorter days and magical sunsets - Keats’ “Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness”. As the changing colors provide us with a restorative, take the time to appreciate the beauty of this place we call home. But also, imagine what it would look like devoid of majestic oaks, for truly, we are in danger of such a fate. Not from the fires that occasionally afflict us unawares. Rather, from the scourge of disease and old age. Sudden Oak Death (SOD) is ravaging our trees and we are only just beginning to experience this silent but deadly plague. You can do your part to slow the course of this problem. We will be holding a workshop in the next couple of months to educate and equip you with the tools to be able to minimize the spread of SOD. Make sure you are part of this. Make sure you don’t lose any more valuable trees. In addition, make sure you clean up any dead trees and brush on your property. It would be a tragedy to save trees from SOD only to lose them by fire.

Early Summer 2009: A Lucky Escape
Perhaps the most recent Journal entry was tempting providence. Maybe it was foresight. Whichever way you look at it, a fire on the Ranch is never a pleasant experience. On the 9th of July, a downed electrical cable started a grass fire about half a mile below the upper extreme of Hawks Beard.

Thankfully, the Ranch Manager, James Huff was on the scene promptly. With the equipment on the back of the Ranch truck, he was able to start firefighting before CalFire arrived. Two planes loaded with fire retardant and half a dozen engines brought the blaze under control. Luckily, the wind was blowing North East, else the outcome may have been quite different for residents at the upper end of Hawks Beard. Perhaps providence is also responsible for having a large water tank, on Hawks Beard. If you remember, this was recently installed and was the source from which the fire department drew much of the water with which to control the blaze. Again, if your property is not fire ready, it needs to be!

Late Spring 2009
Fire season is here again, and this one is projected to be severe, so we all need to be pro-active in preventing problems. As ever, we need to maintain a proper “defensible” space around our properties. This means:

  • Clear a space of at least 100 feet around your home or other structures of all inflammable vegetation.
  • Don't burn debris.
  • Keep cars and trucks off the grass.
  • Limit equipment use, such as weed whackers, to morning hours on overcast days.
  • Eliminate any fires or playing with fire.
  • Don't allow smoking outside.

Remember that the California Department of Forestry, which is the primary authority for fire-fighting in our area, is also very clear - in a severe fire situation, if your house isn't "defensible" they won't try to defend it from fire. They won't risk personnel in situations where flammable vegetation is next to the home or where there is no escape route from the property for fire fighters.

As usual, the George Ranch Policy is that any homes that have not had a minimum of 100 feet of grass area cleared around the building perimeter will be addressed by the Ranch Manager and the required hired help. The cost will be billed to the home owner.

On a somewhat related subject, most communities are entering into a period of mandatory water rationing. Clearly, continued drought conditions, locally, will eventually affect everyone, but at this time, as an entity that is served from a ground water well, there is no need for immediate concern over rationing. To this end, George Ranch has not adopted an official policy of water rationing but everyone should still avoid being wasteful.

Spring 2009
Spring is here. On top of his regular tasks, the Ranch Manager is adding another initiative to keep our surroundings beautiful. The George Ranch Oaks in particular are a distinguishing part of our community, and every effort we can make to save them is worth our while. James is working with the Buildings and Grounds Committee to ensure twenty or so of the most important trees on the ranch are maintained and kept healthy. These will all be in the common areas. All necessary efforts will be taken to preserve them, including spraying and deep watering if appropriate. We will be marking each of the selected specimens with yellow tape, so if you see this around trees over the next few months, please do not remove it. Good thinking James! This effort is on top of those of the individuals who are keeping trees on their own properties in good shape. Additionally, the Board has commissioned a special committee to look at long term care for our trees, which should be useful for all residents. This body will report back with its recommendations, later this year.




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