Sweeping Vistas and Remote Wilderness

In the wilds of northern Sonoma County, California, and the shadow of Mount Saint Helena lies thousands of acres of protected lands. The gateway to this natural landscape is Audubon Canyon Ranch’s Modini Preserve. The preserve totals 3,000 acres and sit on the slopes of the Mayacamas Mountains above Highway 128 in the Alexander Valley.

The Land

The Preserve features a rich blend of biologically diverse habitats, including oak woodlands, pine forests, grasslands, chaparral, riparian forests, natural springs, wild streams and serpentine outcrops that support several rare plants (download preserve plant list here).

The area is home to deer, black bears, bobcats, mountain lions, coyotes, grey foxes, nesting golden eagles, northwestern pond turtles, and foothill yellow-legged frogs, as well as many birds. Rare plants on the property include Greene’s narrow-leaved daisy, St. Helena fawn lily, and green jewel-flower. The peaks, ridges, ravines and valleys here are part of three healthy watersheds, which all drain to the Russian River.

The Modini Preserve is also core to 12,000 acres of contiguous habitat in the Mayacamas Mountains that are protected under conservation easements with the Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District. ACR collaborates with this and other local organizations and agencies in management, research and educational use of the Preserve.

The History

Modini Preserve is within the ancestral territories of the Coast Miwok, Southern Pomo and Wappo peoples; we fully acknowledge that Indigenous lands are still occupied by us and others.

ACR's 3,000-acre Modini Preserve is a merger of two neighboring properties previously named McCord Ranch North (1,375-acres) and Modini Ranch (1,725-acres), protected in 1994 and 2000 respectively by the landowners with Forever Wild conservation easements held by Sonoma County Ag + Open Space.

The National Audubon Society (NAS) owned McCord Ranch North, then known as the Mayacamas Mountains Sanctuary until 2012 when NAS transferred ownership to ACR. At that time, the Modini Ranch, then called the Modini Ingalls Ecological Preserve, was transferred to ACR as well in a bequest by ranchers Jim and Shirley Modini, avid land conservationists and wildlife enthusiasts.

Theresa and Timothy Ingalls homesteaded the western portion of the Modini Ranch in the mid-1800’s, and their son Jack Ingalls and his wife Mary (nee Livernash) subsequently expanded it to include the eastern portion through acquisition of the Hall ranch. Jack and Mary’s nephew Jim Modini and his wife Shirley (nee Nye) moved to the ranch after WWII and resided there continuously until they died in their home on the ranch in 2011 and 2012 respectively.

ACR designated the Modini Preserve as a collective title for the rugged wildlands that make up the 3,000-acre preserve.

Access

A favorite spot for birding (download our bird checklist here), the Preserve is traversed by Pine Flat Road, a public county road that meanders through the property. Visitors can enjoy the views and birdwatch from roadside pullouts anytime without appointment. Please drive cautiously, as this is a one-lane winding road with limited sight lines.

The Preserve also hosts public guided hikes, which are posted on our calendar. To obtain certification for limited off-road hiking, attend an orientation session, which are also posted on the calendar.