Awaiting a buyer with a can-do, adventurous spirit and an interest in land stewardship.
A beautiful and extremely energy efficient, fire hardened, custom straw bale home, within its exclusive .56 acre building envelope, within a 45+acre, privately conserved Smiling Owl Wildlife Preserve. The property is less than 20 minutes from downtown Nevada City. The 1600 sq. ft. house, over an 800 sq. ft. garage, is so efficient that only a cord+ of wood is needed for winter heat. All structures are fire hardened and the forested acreage has been extensively managed for healthy wildlife habitat and fire safety, saving a buyer hundreds of thousands of dollars and countless work hours. The 45+ acres are shared, enjoyed and maintained with Nina Allen, the founder of the preserve. She lives up the hill in her earth-bag house within a .03 acre privately managed building envelope. The Preserve, an important wildlife corridor on the North fork of Deer Creek, is bordered by two creeks and the Tahoe National Forest. The larger community of great neighbors works together to keep the shared road in good condition, thin brush, and generally help each other. We are looking for a “Conservation Buyer,” someone who wants to help steward the beautiful, riparian Smiling Owl Wildlife Preserve. A percentage of the sale will be donated to the Nisenan Ancestral Homelands Reciprocity Program (https://chirpca.org/ancestral-homelands). Please see “Details of the Offering” for more information and financial details.
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. She removed truck-loads of old car parts and logging and camping equipment. 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, volunteers on community burns, and teaches workshops on Nevada County land stewardship. She will continue to contribute labor, experience, and financial support toward stewarding Smiling Owl Wildlife Preserve, as long as she lives on the land, with a goal of creating a long term stewardship fund.
Nina is looking for land partners 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 co-steward the land with her. It is her hope that whomever buys into the project will eventually take over the stewardship whenever she is ready to move on.
Creeks Roaring after a rain.
Stars on a Cold winter night.
Tracks and scat, evidence that Friends were here.
The sweet scent of Matilija Poppies and
Cleavland Sage on a Solstice dawn, loud with Bees and Birdsong.
The Scent of Everything!
The more I quiet my mind, the more I learn.
The more I give of my heart, the more understanding comes:
There is no separate self; everything is interconnected !
Please join me in this celebration!
- Nina Allen
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 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)
· Solar Battery and Generator maintenance. (Monthly)
· Snow removal from balcony and back side of house. (Infrequent)
· Domestic animals, including house cats, must be managed so as not to stress or kill wildlife, or tempt wildlife to kill (e.g., chickens are a really bad idea and never survive).
· No pesticides or herbicides as they are unnecessary. Diverse insects and bird species keep insect pests in check.
Please note: Because of the federal status of the conservation easement, cannabis growing is prohibited until the federal government legalizes Marijuana.
“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
For more information about this unique opportunity and offering, please select the button below.
Nina Allen is willing to consider various ownership structures, including shared ownership and stewardship of the preserve with separation of rights to the homes through a Tenants in Common agreement
OPTION A: List Price: $565,000 for exclusive rights to and responsibility for a 1600 sq. ft., fire hardened, off grid, Straw Bale Home and separate, round Straw Bale Studio within its exclusive .56 acre building envelope while sharing with the Seller, Nina Allen, the stewardship and ownership of the majority of the 45 acres which is protected by a conservation easement held by Bear Yuba Land Trust. The 2 story, 2 bedroom, 1 ½ bath, house sits over an 800 sq. ft. garage/workshop with built in storage and work bench. The house is so energy efficient that, without using the radiant floor heat, only about a cord of wood is needed for warmth in the winter. The structure of the sale is legally described as a percentage of interest in the entire 45+ acre property through a Tenants In Common agreement. The appraised value of the entire property is $800,000.
OPTION B: The separate, round Straw Bale Studio or “guest house” includes a sleeping loft and wet bar, and can be shared with the seller for $50,000 off the list price (i.e. $515,000).
OPTION C: List price of $800,000 for the entire property (including the main house, guest house and studio, and the preserve) with a minimum 5-year lease back of the guest house (earth bag studio) to Nina. Terms to be negotiated.
There is an outhouse/composting toilet, outdoor shower, small fenced in orchard, raised beds, pollinator and herb gardens, and room for a small greenhouse. Greywater and drip systems water the orchard and gardens. The solar system includes 16 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. There is PGE on-grid power potential as well.
Seller will retain exclusive use and care for her 650 sq. ft. Earth-Bag home that she recently finished building, with it its .03 acre building envelope, separate septic, well, on grid power, gardens and private driveway. Nina is committed to co-stewarding Smiling Owl Wildlife Preserve while she has shared interest in the property. Her presence on the deed should help with fire insurance and taxes and her 20+ years of experience living off grid, in the ecosystem, will be a major benefit to new co-owners.
Most of the 45+ acre Wildlife Preserve is open space, owned, enjoyed and maintained by both property owners. The use limitations are prescribed in the Conservation Easement held by the Bear Yuba Land Trust in perpetuity. The addition of permanent structures and trails is not allowed outside the two building envelopes so as to keep the Preserve's human footprint as small as possible. Domestic animals must be controlled so as to not disturb or kill wildlife. Cannabis cannot be grown anywhere on the property because of the Land Trust's federal status.
Seller is willing to consider creative financing and ownership structures for the right buyer, including a lease-option with or without sweat equity.
Financing: Cash or Possible Seller financing, Lease Option and /or Sweat Equity.
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 and radiant heat under hardwood floors, tiled bathrooms, a claw foot tub and great 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 16 panels and a 24-volt battery pack. There is the possibility of connecting to PG&E if desired. There is also a le
Three small gardens include an herb garden, a pollinator garden and a raised bed vegetable garden, plus asmall 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. (Exclusive rights to this studio are optional.)
Inside the studio: a propane fireplace, wet bar and a sleeping loft.
Outhouse and woodshed next to the studio