Secluded 45+ acres with two beautiful, custom, energy efficient homes, two year-round creeks and 3 waterfalls!
Two beautiful custom homes, one straw bale and the other of earth bag construction, on a 45+ acre wildlife sanctuary on Deer Creek! Secluded yet only 20 minutes to downtown Nevada City, this magical property is an important part of the Deer Creek watershed with 2 year-round creeks and 3 waterfalls! Hike or bike from the property; skiing, boating and fishing nearby. Most of the property is held in a conservation easement by Bear Yuba Land Trust to protect this important wildlife habitat from future development. . The main house is a fire-hardened, energy-efficient, 2 br/1.5 bath straw bale home bathed in natural light, with canyon views and artisan accents including curved, plaster-finish walls, radiant heat floors, a masonry stove, deep window sills, built-in bookshelves. This house is on-grid but can run off-grid with owned solar panels, inverter and batteries. The 2-car tandem garage has a large workshop and a root cellar. A fenced garden area beside the main house includes raised beds and a small orchard with apple and pear trees, and a pollinator garden blooms beside the house over the spring and summer months. Greywater and drip systems water the orchard and gardens.
A round, strawbale studio (also fire-hardened) with a propane fireplace, sink and loft sits on the hill just above the main house.
The solar system serving the main house includes 12 panels and a 24 volt industrial battery storage bank as well as an efficient, quiet, back up propane generator. There is also a micro hydro-electric generator that provided plenty of power in stormy weather, and is now in need of repair. Both homes are also tied to the electrical grid.
The second home is a beautiful, fire-hardened, 650-sq. ft., 1 bedroom/1 bath earthbag house w/a large loft and its own well/power/septic/detached garage/driveway, Seller would love to rent-back the guest house for a few years and co-steward the land but is willing to move.
The larger community of great neighbors work together to keep the shared road in good condition, thin brush, and generally, help each other.
The Preserve, an important wildlife corridor on the North fork of Deer Creek, includes two year-round creeks and is bordered by the Tahoe National Forest.
The larger community of great neighbors work together to keep the shared road in good condition, thin brush, and generally help each other.
A percentage of the sale will be donated to the Nisenan Ancestral Homelands Reciprocity Program (https://chirpca.org/ancestral-homelands).
The 45+ acre Riparian Wildlife Preserve is an important wildlife corridor on the North fork of Deer Creek. It includes two year-round creeks and is bordered by the Tahoe National Forest. While held in a conservation easement, it is private land, enjoyed and maintained by the property owner(s). The use limitations are prescribed in the Conservation Easement held by the Bear Yuba Land Trust in perpetuity. The addition of permanent structures is not allowed outside the two building envelopes so as to protect this impoortant wildlife hapbitat from further development.
PLEASE NOTE: As in any rural, forested community, domestic animals, especially fowl and livestock, do not survive well within the habitat of their natural predators, and dogs and cats must be controlled so as to not disturb or kill wildlife, or become prey. Cannabis cannot be grown anywhere on the property because of the Land Trust's federal status.
The land that comprises Smiling Owl Preserve was originally part of the summer hunting/gathering grounds of the Nisenan people. There is evidence of their stewardship nearby. When Nina Allen, the Founder of Smiling Owl Preserve, bought the initial parcel on the edge of Tahoe National Forest in 1997, it had been mined and over logged. Over time, acreage was added and in 2017, her dream of protecting this part of the important Deer Creek wildlife corridor became a reality with the Bear Yuba Land Trust Conservation Easement designation. Extensive thinning, chipping, burning and planting of forbs and grasses has started to bring the forest back to health. Neighbors have worked alongside each other to improve contiguous parcels for wildlife habitat and fire safety. The land is now brimming with insect and bird life that had not been present 20 years ago; deer are bedding down in the meadow and wildlife cams show a plethora of animals walking the paths.
Nina looks forward to sharing knowledge and experience and inspiring more people to care for/manage land for ecological diversity and resilience.
“When humans study, watch, and learn what to do, we can actually be helpful to the planet!” - Nina Allen
Nina is an artist, acupuncturist and naturalist. She loves to create natural habitats for all life forms. Growing up in New York City, she wanted to escape to “wildness” as soon as she could crawl! She is the third generation of eldest daughters preserving wild land in perpetuity. A passionate, life-long student of the natural world and traditional cultures, she is dedicated to social and environmental justice and values living as lightly as possible on the planet.
Nina has devoted many years of her life to learn about and learn from the beautiful wild riparian ecosystem in which she lives. She is a founding member of the Yuba Bear Burn Cooperative and volunteers on community burns.
Nina's dream is to find the next land steward(s) who are interested in the science of interconnected biological webs; who are dedicated to deeply understanding and nurturing their home and habitat; who share her passion for conservation and preservation; and who have the energy, ability and desire to steward the land responsibly.
Braiding Sweetgrass, Robin Wall Kimmer,
Finding The Mother Tree: Discovering the Wisdom of the Forest, Suzanne Simard
History of Us: Nisenan Tribe of the Nevada Rancheria, by Richard B. Johnson
Tending the Wild, Kat Anderson
Prescribed Burning, Harold Biswell
Bay Nature, Resilient CA, Living With Fire, Summer 2021
Flora: Fall 2020, (California Native Plant Society) vol 4 No 1, page14, Sept. 30, 2020 “Sacred Pollinators: An Interview with Frank K. Lake” https://www.cnps.org/flora-magazine/frank-lake-interview-19690
Ecological Processes, vol.2, Article # 24 (2013), “The effects of indigenous prescribed fire on riparian vegetation in central California”, Don L. Hankinshttps://ecologicalprocesses.springeropen.com/articles/10.1186/2192-1709-2-24
While Nina has done the initial forest vegetation thinning and fire hardening of structures, managing for a healthy diverse forest ecosystem that sequesters carbon is an ongoing commitment with seasonal tasks. In the past, Nina obtained cost-share grants to tackle large forest thinning projects and has thinned the entire 45+ acres. Now, minimal labor is needed to maintain the forest and rotate the thinning and burning of sections. Neighborhoods all over California are beginning to help each other do this work. With the effects of climate change and a 100-year culture of fire suppression in California, government agencies and property owners are finally catching up to California Indigenous management practices and realizing the necessity and the benefits of vegetative thinning and pile or broadcast burning in our many fire adapted ecosystems.
Land Stewardship responsibilities include:
* Maintenance of community road, private drive and paths: maintain water bars during winter, community brush thinning along the road (Fall-Spring)
· Limbing and thinning trees. (Infrequent)
· Cutting up storm downed trees for firewood. (Yearly)
· Burning wood piles and helping with professional broadcast burns for fire safety and to improve water, nutrient and carbon storage in the soil. (Fall-Spring)
· Invasive plant monitoring and removal including Himalayan Blackberry, Scotch Broom and invasive grasses. (Yearly)
· Planting for wildlife habitat. (Occasional)
· The larger community of great neighbors work together to keep the shared road in good condition, thin brush, and generally, help each other.
· Solar Battery and Generator maintenance. (Monthly)
· Snow removal from balcony and back side of house. (Infrequent)
· Weed whacking tall grass in the summer
· Pesticides and herbicides are unnecessary as diverse insects and bird species keep insect pests in check.
Please note: Because of the federal status of the conservation easement, cannabis growing is currently prohibited.
“One of our responsibilities as human people is to find ways to enter into reciprocity with the more-than-human world. We can do it through gratitude, through ceremony, through land stewardship, science, art and in everyday acts of practical reverence.” Braiding Sweetgrass, (p.190), by Robin Wall Kimmerer
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List price of $750,000 for the entire property (including the main house, guest house and studio, and the preserve). Nina Allen would love to rent-back the earthbag guest house for a few years and help the new owners steward the land, but this is not a requirement of the sale. It can be a steep learning curve for anyone without rural, forest living experience, and Nina is happy to share her knowledge of the land and stewardship successes with the new owners regardless of whether or not she remains as a tenant.
Financing: Conventional, Cash, FHA
The main home is a 2-bedroom, 1.5 bath, 1800 sq. ft., straw bale house on top of a 900+/- sq. ft. garage/ workshop.
The home has a masonry wood stove, radiant heat under hardwood floors, a claw foot tub and lots of natural light. Both buildings have been fire-hardened with a metal roof, stucco siding and enclosed cement board soffits. The solar is owned and off-grid and includes 12 panels and a 24-volt battery pack. The home is also connected to PG&E.
Three small gardens include an herb garden, a pollinator garden and a raised bed vegetable garden, plus a small orchard with pear, apple and raspberries. A gray water system waters the orchard, gardens and native landscaping.
The Strawbale studio is also fire-hardened with a metal roof, stucco siding, cement-board eave enclosures and fascia and heat-closing vents.
Inside the studio: a propane fireplace, wet bar and a sleeping loft.
Outhouse and woodshed next to the studio