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Wickersham Road News
September 27, 2001


We have assembled this newsletter in order to start the process of clarifying road maintenance for all of the Ranch Owners and collecting input for the long-term program.

As we mentioned in July, we will be presenting outlines of regular and long-term maintenance activities. These will include task lists that may be amended based on input from the owners.

The Road Committee will be performing its own research and inquiry into various aspects of rural road design. We are researching agency requirements for maintenance of rural roads. We will be meeting with consultants who specialize in rural road design and compliance with State requirements. We are also collecting opinions from people who work on roads for a living.

We have already heard a number of opinions about the direction we should take regarding long term maintenance for the road. We have also heard from various vendors who are familiar with the road. We will continue to entertain ideas and opinions, but we also will ensure that road decisions are made by the Road Committee with the expressed interest of the Owners in mind. All work will be specified by the committee based on our collective knowledge and experience.

The Owners should note that the current road committee combines over 40 years of experience that includes road building, project management, construction management, public projects utilizing public monies and coordination with public agencies.

We will be utilizing this experience on a volunteer basis, and supplementing it with resources from our respective companies on a donation basis, for the benefit of the road.

We appreciate your support as we develop this strategy.

Road Maintenance Perspective

The Problem

As everyone is aware, our road system at the ranch is very rustic. Most of us prefer it that way as it suits our needs and enhances our experience at the Ranch. We didnít come here to have a super highway leading up to our campsites.

The rustic nature of the road is also the source of many of the problems in maintaining the road and dealing with the annual cycles of rain and dust.

While it is a rustic rural road, it is not a well designed road and as such requires a higher level of maintenance.. Regular grading, repairs and drainage maintenance require more effort on this road than should be necessary.

Additionally, the road is not in compliance with various state regulations regarding water pollution and habitat protection.


We should all remain clear about the following facts regarding our road:

- The main ranch road is approximately 14 miles long.

- For all of us as individuals, the road occurs mostly on other peopleís property.

Each parcel pays $300 per year for the benefit of having this road. That works out to $23.00 per mile in annual maintenance expense. Lunch for two people typically costs $20 - $30.

- The Road Association collects approximately $10,000 per year for use in maintaining the road. This expense must be used for winterization, incidental repairs, long term maintenance and emergencies. A set of kitchen cabinets can cost anywhere from $10,000 to $75,000 and up.

- The average user of the road, based on interpolation from last yearís survey, makes 2 trips to the ranch per month. Some users, however, generate as many as 7 trips a week and more during logging and harvest operations.

- Typical Road Maintenance by public agencies requires extensive planning, surveying, engineering and documentation, as well as inspection and ongoing project management. On large projects this overhead can represent 30-50% of actual construction costs. There is no budget for overhead costs on our road as all management is on a volunteer basis.

We have a lot of road and a very limited maintenance budget. While we may have many different expectations about the kind of maintenance and attention the road deserves, our resources will limit us to the most basic needs with little or no management overhead. We donít have the benefit of plans and specifications, surveys, regular maintenance staff and emergency crews ready and waiting. Additionally we donít have an engineering staff to define projects and an accounting staff to manage them.


We have two basic tasks to address in dealing with our road:

- Regular Maintenance: Tasks required to handle annual and repetitive maintenance tasks and to ensure that the road does not degrade and cause additional environmental harm.

- Long Term Maintenance and Improvement: To reduce maintenance over time and to improve the environmental performance of the road.

These tasks are further defined below and will form the basis of the Project structure we are developing.

Road Maintenance Master Planning

We are recommending the development of a Long Term Maintenance and Improvement Plan for the road for the purposes of converting it to a compliant rural road that meets Water Quality standards.

Recommended Goals

The Plan should address the following goals.

- Meeting current Regular Maintenance requirement

- Achieving long term viability of the road from a structural and maintenance perspective.

- Achieving a reduction in annual maintenance requirements

- Achieving compliance with State and Local Regulations regarding Water Quality and Species Protection and resulting protection of Ranch Owners from enforcement action.

- Positioning the Association for financial support from State and Federal Agencies regarding specific compliance activities.

Recommended Plan Components

The plan should include the following components:

- Creation of a program of Regular Maintenance Tasks that address periodic and repetitive maintenance tasks. This program should include an annual schedule describing optimum times of year for particular tasks.

- Adoption of Standards for Road Design and Maintenance that specifically satisfy the requirements of Water Quality and Department of Fish and Game

- Identification of Long Term Road Improvement Program that includes a series of individual projects intended to bring the road into compliance with various governmental requirements. The Program should include a schedule and priorities for individual projects to ensure that the most critical projects occur in a timely manner.

- Development of a funding strategy for Long Term Projects that reserves excess annual dues for use on individual projects. The funding strategy should be flexible enough to allow for the pursuit of supplemental funds when available and when the Owners choose to pursue them. The strategy should be based on an intention to perform all of these projects, eventually, whether supplemental funds are pursued or not. Long term projects should only be initiated after Regular Maintenance Tasks are funded.

- Development of methods for administration of Projects. Methods should include; communications task, owner feedback and voting methods, administrative methods for obtaining permits and qualifying vendors, and basic record keeping.

Development of such a Plan will be done on volunteer basis by the current committee. We will likely request assistance from the Owners for various tasks. We should consider a plan with duration of no more than 5 years for the Long Term Projects.

Regular Maintenance Tasks

While considering long-term improvements, we should clarify Regular Maintenance Tasks. These are tasks that may be required each year or every two or three years on an ongoing basis given the current condition of the road.

 As Long Term Improvements occur, these tasks may be reduced in scope and, in some cases, eliminated.

Regular Maintenance Tasks include the following:

- Culvert Inspections and Clearing

- Catch Basin Inspection, cleaning and barricading

- Spring Grading

- Pre-Winter Grading and Water Bar Installation

- Brush Trimming

- Incidental Rock Replacement

- Gate Repairs and Maintenance

- Additional Tasks as recommended by Owners

Regular tasks will be more clearly defined as the Plan evolves and should eventually include. Standard specifications for use by maintenance vendors.

Long Term Maintenance Tasks

Long Term Maintenance and Improvement should occur over several years and may include a number of tasks intended to increase the durability of the road and reduce environmental impacts. These tasks will be one-time tasks focused on specific problem areas or conditions.

Tasks will be assembled into projects appropriate to the funding available, to the season and to the priorities for road improvement. Some projects may include one task over a large section of road, or several tasks for a short section of road.

Projects should be structured such that they can be performed individually in one season with regular dues without reducing resources for regular maintenance of the entire road.

Projects should be defined by location and may cover a mile or a half-mile per year depending on the nature of the work. A method for describing locations on the road should be clearly developed. This may include the current mile markers and some agreement for place names.

Projects should be prioritized with the most environmentally critical projects performed first. Projects should not be prioritized according to individual owner needs or priorities, but only based on needs of the road.

Long Term Improvement Projects should include the following components:

 - Culvert Removal where appropriate

- Out sloping, berm removal, installation of rolling dips and ditch infill

- Grade Adjustments where greater than 20 % and alternate alignment can be achieved.

- Redesign of stream crossings where substandard

- Rock installation at stream crossing, critical grades

- Peripheral seeding and erosion control

- Bridge abutment upgrade and stabilization

- Snot hill drainage management:

- Parcel 37 drainage management

- Additional tasks as recommended by Owners

The Committee will create a schedule of projects covering all critical aspects of the road and will identify them in terms of priority, scope and anticipated cost for review by the Owners. This will occur in the next newsletter.

Each project can then be priced and initiated by vendors, appropriate to the project, as funds are available.

It is also our intention to monitor grants in neighboring communities and assess whether pursuit of one or more grants from Public Agencies will be appropriate to our needs. If so, we will seek input from appropriate consultants to pursue such grants and initiate a program of improvements that will satisfy grantors requirements while remaining consistent with our needs for the road.

We will only pursue grants if it appears that the resulting administrative and compliance responsibilities will not over burden either the committee or the Owners.

Immediate Tasks

We are proposing the following Regular Maintenance Task for this year.

- Catch Basin clearing and preparation for winter.

- Possible rock at Snot Hill once rainy season has started.

- Locking mechanism replacement at Big Iron Gate once rainy season has started.

We will be selecting vendors appropriate to the task who have both the skills and the tools to perform them. All vendors will be licensed at the level required by law for the work they are performing. We will require insurance certificates where appropriate.

Gate Issues

We continue to have serious problems with the Front Gate. It has been left unlocked on numerous occasions and the situation is becoming one of great concern to our neighbors on the front ranches.

We are certain that the majority of Owners respect the wishes of our neighbors and the requirement to maintain a locked gate at the County Road.

It is clear that the gate has been left unlocked by a very few individuals on a recurring basis.

We are asking all road users to consider the following:

- When using the gate please check that the lock is actually locked when you use it. Spin the numbers several times and test the lock before leaving the gate.

- If you see or know of someone who has left the front gate unlocked, please talk to them about it directly. Please notify the committee and we will talk to them as well.

- Please remind all of your guests and employees that the road is not a public road. It actually crosses private property. When using the road they are driving on someone elseís land. When leaving the gate unlocked they are not hurting the government or some public agency, they are hurting their neighbors.

We would like to see the gate issue resolved via neighborly means. This will be the most effective resolution. If we, or our neighbors, have to resort to non-neighborly means, it will end up costing all of the Owners more money in annual dues and likely degrade the enjoyment of the ranch for all of us.

Anything that any neighbor can do to solve this problem will be greatly appreciated by all of us. Thanks in advance.


2001/2002 Committee Members

Martin Drilling
Parcel #8,9
1321 Paloma Avenue
Burlingame, Ca  94010
650 696 1200

Diane Porter
Parcel #14
49100 Wickersham Rd.
Geyserville, CA 95442

(707) 322-4663

Dave Schafer
Parcel #5

227 Bodega Ave.
Petaluma, CA 94952

Ranch E-Mail


Ranch Website


Thanks to Tami Bobb for her efforts in sharing space on her personal ranch site for our benefit.

The following resources are available to assist landowners in various aspects of long term planning.

In future issues we will continue to present any resources that we discover which may be of interest to the Ranch Owners.

If there are resources that you think may be interesting to others, please forward them to the committee.

Microsoft Network TerraServer

Resource for aerial photos and maps.

Department of Fish and Game Anadromous Fish and Watershed Branch http://www.dfg.ca.gov/nafwb/index.html
Resource for information regarding stream habitat restoration and related information.

North Coast Water Quality Control Board

Resource for information regarding sediment regulation and specific information for the Gualala Watershed Assessment.

California Oak Mortality Task Force
Resource for information about the research and status of Sudden Oak Death. Submitted by James and Linda Pedroni, parcel 13.

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