Buckeye Stewardship Award presented to John and Peggy Rice

Mary Bullwinkel

Beacon Correspondent

John and Peggy Rice, long-time owners and managers of Fort Baker Ranch, were honored recently at the annual meeting of conservancy nonprofit The Buckeye, held at Fortuna's River Lodge.

"It is with great pleasure that I present this plaque honoring John and Peggy Rice as recipients of The Buckeye Stewardship award," Buckeye Executive Director Johanna Rodoni said. "Not only because it recognizes their exemplary care of ranch resources," she continued, "but also because they are dear friends."

The Buckeye Stewardship Award is given in recognition of good ranch land and resource stewardship for a particular ranching, dairy, or timber enterprise.

The Fort Baker Ranch has been in the Rice family since 1951. John's father Lee Rice acquired the ranch at that time, and today grandson Skylar Rice is working with John and Peggy as the next generational manager at the ranch.

In an article published about Fort Baker Ranch, John Rice is quoted as saying, "My feeling is that if you take good care of your cattle, your grass and water will also benefit. For example, keeping cattle healthy and in reasonably good shape requires taking good care of the grass above the ground and the roots below. The same principle applies to water, I believe."

When the Williamson Act guidelines were adopted by the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors in 1969, the Fort Baker Ranch was the third ranch to be entered into the new act that year. Under the act, private landowners voluntarily restrict their land to agriculture and compatible open space uses through a land conservation contract with the County. The minimum term for a contract is 10 years, and the contract is usually automatically renewed.

Also at the meeting, five people were selected to serve another three-year term on the Buckeye board of directors. They are Ken Fulgham, Julie Houtby, Elizabeth Marshall, Sarah Mora and Gary Rynearson. Two new board members were recently appointed: Marty McClellan and Scott Downie. Incoming chairman of the board will be Bill May, first vice-chairwoman will be Claire McAdams, and second vice-chairwoman will be Sarah Mora.

Photo by Mary Bullwinkel/Beacon

2014 Buckeye Stewardship Award recipients John and Peggy Rice, pictured with Buckeye Chairman Ken Fulgham, right.