Friends of Silver Saddle Ranch attracted members and visitors to a Saturday open house to promote protection and preservation of the 703-acre working ranch.
The ranch house is east of the Carson City urban area just off the Carson River Road on a dirt road. Upon reaching the ranch house, vehicles cannot proceed onto the rest of the ranch land.
About 25 people were on hand when Craig Swope of Carson City, a Friends board member, showed up dressed in Santa Claus garb as part of the festive occasion. Swope dispensed candy to the younger set, who also got rides on the horse-drawn carriage in which he arrived.
He was carted in on a rig pulled by Alena, a Norwegian Fjord horse, and driven by Beth Scott, vice president of the organization.
Scott, who has called Silver Saddle a "special little niche in Eagle Valley," said from her perch on the carriage that Alena was recalcitrant in the morning chill about bringing Santa to the open house.
But the scheduled 11 a.m. arrival wasn't delayed much, prompting young and old alike to exit the toasty ranch house into a yard providing a backdrop of cattle and mountains in the brisk morning air.
Inside the holiday-decorated red ranch house, Nancy Santos, president of the group, dispensed hot apple cider or bottles of water for the adult set before Santa's arrival. They also were nibbling on home-made cookies or other sweets available.
The ranch is part of thousands of acres being transferred to Carson City from the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service, which the city's Open Space Committee is helping oversee by putting together a management plan to ensure future stewardship.
The organization's stewardship goals for the ranch include preserving and enhancing the Carson River ecosystem, providing for trail uses and other recreation, enhancing ranch access, preserving cultural heritage, improving management and upgrading on site education.
The ranch is located between the Pine Nut Mountains to the east and Prison Hill to the west in an area dominated by agricultural fields, sagebrush and wetland riparian habitats.
The ranch, conveyed to Carson City under the Omnibus Public Lands Management Act of 2009 along with other acreage in the area, is subject to a perpetual conservation easement.
It is designed to protect, preserve and enhance the conservation values of these lands.
Carson City is permitted to use the property for undeveloped open space, passive recreation, customary agricultural practices and wildlife protection.