Winje's Farm
Conservation Easement
Surprise Valley, California

The Cottage at Winje's Farm

The Wetland Restoration Project (WRP) on Winjes Farm began September 3rd, 2006. An email sent to Wildlife Heritage Foundation, the Wildlife Habitat Council and The California Natural Resources Agency, asking where we could get information regarding wildlife easements with respect to Sand Hill Crane nesting areas stimulated the first responses. December 18th, 2006 Winjes Farm entered into a discussion with Steve Clay with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at The Modoc National Wildlife Refuge in Alturas.

Back and forth communications with Steve Clay started to bring others into the conversation; Loren Ruport of the FWS, and Richard Shinn with Calif. Department of Fish and Game. A date of May 8th, 2007 was set for the first site visit. It was going to be great weather to show them Winjes Farm. The meadow was beautiful and starting to bloom. Ducks, geese and Sand Hill were mixed with deer along with plovers and blackbirds when Jan and Russ walked the fields ahead of their visit. It was wet, with the creek flowing into the meadow and shallow ponds, making it necessary to remind them to bring rubber boots.

A successful visit was followed by months of quiet networking with multiple agencies, biologist, geologist, ornithologist, University professors, attracting the attention of a web of professionals eventually bringing us to the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). A three-year long process would follow, bringing in Audubon and putting us into a state wide rating process which we came out of as number 3 in the state and up for a WRP.

With the WRP set to be in perpetuity the building begins with a Land survey setting the boundaries of Winjes farm and the area included within the WRP. Survey started with locating “K tags” and original blaze trees then brass caps along the US Forest boundary and original high water lake meander lines. Eventually these are translated to satellite located points on the ground and to an easement map.

The south side of the WRP is set aside for a walking trail on Winjes Farm along Miller Creek allowing a good view of the conservation easement.

Two miles of perimeter wildlife friendly four wire fence was installed around the easement. The lowest wire is 18” above the ground to allow antelope and deer access when crawling under. The top wire is separated from the next to the top wire with a gap to allow the deer to jump over without catching their feet on the two wires. We found that though the deer can jump the fence, they often crawl under.

To identify the boundary survey points were set for metal pipe monuments set in concrete with conservation easement signs

The original water course established along with the 1860s water rights on Miller creek, book one of water rights, was cleaned up and upgraded with water turnouts and a Fresno valve on the main channel to take water along the highest point of the WRP. The goal was to waler the entire easement from the highest point, and down to bottom meadow along the edge of Upper Lake.

Old rusted culvert installed in the 1950s was removed and the 1800s ditch cleaned out and re leveled with a laser.

Interlocking fiberglass retaining structures were driven into place and cut out to allow for water level control at side discharges from main distribution ditch.

A new culvert replaced the 1950s installation. A mechanical Fresno valve replaced old wood gates. The excavator hung the gate while fitting into water distribution box. The excavator pounded in inner locking panels to protect water box from high water events.

Winter of 2022 / 2023 brought a lot of snow and rain, filling Upper Lake slowly. Snow came and left multiple times, looing like winter had ended, then it was back. See we put in all those years ago were still viable and succeeded in germinating. The water in the upper improved 1860’s ditch irrigated the upper field and made it to the lower meadow’s distribution ditch. The meadow started to creep back into the upper field.

Come spring the trail needed wood chips to compensate for underground saturation reaching out from the creek.

Vigorous growth extended from the upper ditch along County Road 1 all the way down to the edge of Upper Lake.

Directions to The Cottage At Winjes Farm
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Winje's Enterprises Contact Information
Russ and Jan Winje

Winje's Farm
45875 County Road One
Lake City CA 96115
(530)279-2371 Phone
(530)279-2371 Fax

Or email Russell at

June 27,2023