Isolated house to be new outpost 

On a sprawling preserve in the hills above Redwood City, a narrow dirt road leads to an old ranch house that for decades was used to lodge cattle hands but has sat empty for years.

This Folger Ranch House, which is about as middle-of-nowhere as you can be on the Peninsula, is being renovated to the tune of $300,000 and will become the isolated outpost of a full-time patrol ranger, tasked with being the eyes and ears of this sprawling new preserve.

The house sits on the 3,700-acre La Honda Creek Open Space Preserve, land purchased by the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District in 2006 and still used as a cattle ranch. The house will become the district’s westernmost station, and will be occupied by one of its rangers, with the goal of having a full-time presence on that end of the preserve, spokeswoman Leigh Ann Maze said.

The ranger will become one of about 12 district employees who live in outposts on the district’s 58,000 acres of open space on the Peninsula. The Folger Ranch House would be the westernmost employee residence in the district’s boundaries — a significant investment because the district plans to continue expanding westward.

Having a staff member living on the open-space property is “vital for emergency response,” Maze said.

“It also just gives the district an awareness of what’s going on on the preserve, and makes sure we’re doing our part to properly manage the land and protect the resources and environment there,” she said.

The district obtained the house as part of the purchase of the Driscoll Ranch in 2006. The house itself is not historic — rather, it was built in the 1950s. However, it is not currently habitable. It needs a new roof, a new heating system, plumbing, electrical and a potable water system.

The preserve is not yet open to the public because the district is still in the midst of updating a master plan of its funding priorities and goals for that and other properties. There are about four miles of trails already built in the preserve, and those are available to the public on a permitted basis. Maze said that depending on funding, the space could be open in about six years.

Courtesy photo
Fixer-upper: A former ranch house needs a new roof — among other things — before it’s ready for park rangers to move in.

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