Equestrian Easements in Diamond A
The majority of properties in the Diamond ‘A’ Ranch Estates have equestrian easements on one or more sides. These easements were created when the Diamond ‘A’ Ranch Estates were first developed. Over the past 50 years, the easements have been the basis for the recreational riding and hiking trails that have been enjoyed by members of the Diamond A community.
The presence and continued maintenance of the recreational easements provides a number of advantages to the Diamond A community.
1. In addition to use by horses and riders, an increasing number of residents use the easements for hiking and dog walking.
2. Having well maintained recreational easements confers a certain cachet for our community that can only enhance property values
3. Well maintained easements provide additional access routes for personnel combating wildfires
4. Our network of easements provides protection for wildlife mobility and, as other communities have found, reduces collisions between wildlife (particularly deer) and automobiles on our roads. The connections between the easements in Diamond A (both Diamond ‘A’ Ranch Estates and Diamond ‘A’ Ranches), the easements of the George Ranch and larger open spaces north and west of Diamond A make significant contributions to movement and protection of wildlife across a large portion of Sonoma County.
All deeds for properties in the Diamond A Ranch Estates reference one of the maps retained by the Sonoma County Recorder’s Office. For example, “Lot 24, as shown upon the map entitled “Map of Diamond ‘A’ Ranch Estates Unit 5, Sonoma County, California,” filed December 29, 1966 in Book 113 of Maps at page 25-31, inclusive, Sonoma County Records”. Examination of page 31 of Book 113 shows that Lot 24 turns out to have an equestrian easement on its southern border and on its eastern border.
The text of the “Grant Deed” for Lot 24 may never mention the term “Equestrian Easement”, but reference to the map reveals a notation of “P. Eq. E” which “Indicates private equestrian easement only for the benefit of Diamond ‘A’ Ranch Estates property owners and members of the Diamond ‘A’ Riding and Racquet Club Inc. (not offered for dedication)”. The Diamond ‘A’ Riding and Racquet Club became the Diamond ‘A’ Recreation Association.
Owners of properties that include recreational easements must not construct any barriers that prevent use of the easements. Barriers include fences (unless unlocked gates allow for passage), buildings, excavations, and landscaping. If a property owner constructs such a barrier, a violation can be filed at Sonoma County Permit and Resource Management by any resident of any unit in the Diamond 'A' Ranch Estates or by any member of the Diamond 'A' Recreation Association.
Over time, growth of naturally occurring native vegetation (oak tree, bay trees, manzanita, coyote bush, etc.) can effectively block use of easements. Responsible property owners, whenever possible, cut back such growth. For many years, the Trailblazers club (see separate tab) had sponsored fund raising activities so that professional landscaping maintenance workers could clear areas that could not be maintained by property owners (the advancing age and/or infirmity levels as well as budgetary restraints of some of our community residents have prevented routine maintenance of some recreational easements.)
In September, 2023, a group of Diamond A residents formed the Trail Safe volunteers, dedicated to restoring and maintaining the recreational easements to an even higher standard so that they form effective "covered fire breaks". In recognition of the work that this group began, the Grove Street Fire Safe Council agreed to identify the Trail Safe group as an integral part of the Grove Street Fire Safe Council. This agreement means that donations to the Trail Safe Group may be eligible for tax deductions if they are made through the Grove Street Fire Safe Council and are clearly marked "For work of Trail Safe"
The Diamond ‘A’ Neighborhood Association encourages contributions so that recreational easements can be maintained for the community. The Trail Safe group issues periodic updates regarding progress on the easements.