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Ratto Ranch deal signed

The historic Ratto Ranch near Sonora will be protected from development in perpetuity thanks to the current property owners and a local preservation group.

The Tuolumne County Land Trust announced the signing of a conservation easement for the 238-acre ranch, nestled against Table Mountain west of Sonora’s Racetrack Road neighborhood.


Home, sweet home: Jamestown woman buys first house at age 91

At the age of 91, Vera Bigham, of Jamestown, has purchased her first home. Maggie Beck / Union Democrat, Copyright 2014.
At 91, Vera Bigham finally has gotten what many consider the American Dream.

On May 6 — her birthday — she and daughter Gaile moved into her newly purchased, three-bedroom home in Mill Villa Estates. It was her first.

Lake activities receding

Water levels at New Melones Reservoir are dropping by about a half-foot per day. Jesse Jones / Union Democrat, Copyright 2014.
A serious drought is putting a crimp on recreational activities at area reservoirs.

At popular boating and fishing spots — like New Melones, Don Pedro and Beardsley reservoirs — lowered lake levels mean some boat launches have been decommissioned, some events have been canceled and anglers are seeing benefits and drawbacks.

On the plus side, some natural and historic features not evident since the last drought in 1992 are becoming visible with dropping lake levels. 

Murder suspect arraigned

A Twain Harte woman was arraigned Friday in Tuolumne County Superior Court on a felony murder charge in the killing of Ricky Roberts.

Cheryl Lynn Lucero, 45, appeared briefly in court at 2:45 p.m. Her arraignment was continued and she didn’t enter a plea. 


Weekend brushfires burn 210 acres

The Reed fire burned more than 100 acres south of San Andreas over the weekend. Jesse Jones / Union Democrat, Copyright 2014.
Firefighters this morning continued to battle a fire between Angels Camp and Copperopolis, one of two weekend brush fires that kept crews busy and forced evacuations in Calaveras County.

As of 8 a.m. today, the Oak Fire had burned 90 acres and was 75 percent contained, according to Cal Fire officials. The fire was burning in a remote location near Oak Valley and Pool Station roads, forcing a temporary closure of Pool Station Road at Highway 4 and tying up traffic Sunday afternoon.

Yosemite plans 150th birthday festivities

The National Park Service will celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Yosemite Grant Act on June 30 with a day full of special guests, events and activities.

On June 30, 1864, President Abraham Lincoln signed the Yosemite Grant Act to preserve Yosemite Valley and the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias.


Fire on Rawhide Road

Firefighters are working to extinguish a vegetation fire on the 19700 block of Rawhide Road.

The fire started about 11 a.m. and has burned about 2 acres. It was burning near a residence, according to Battalion Chief Jeff Sanders, of Cal Fire.

Sanders said about noon the forward spread of the fire slowed down and was almost stopped, they cannot yet call it contained.

The fire jumped into a drainage ditch, Sanders said.

Cal Fire and Tuolumne County Fire units are on scene as well as resources from Columbia Air Attack.

A Cal Fire investigator was in route to the scene and the cause of the fire was not yet determined.

Oak Fire update

Firefighters overnight continued to battle an 80 to 100 acre wildfire burning near Copperopolis.

The Oak Fire is burning near Oak Valley Road and Pool Station Road.

At of 8:45 p.m., the fire had burned 80 to 100 acres and was 60 percent contained, according to Cal Fire officials.

The Oak Fire is the second large fire along Pool Station Road in the past four days.

The Reed Fire at the north end of Pool Station, near its junction with Highway 49 south of San Andreas, burned more than 100 acres between Friday afternoon to Sunday afternoon. It was 100 percent contained as of last night.

Reed Fire update

The Reed Fire south of San Andreas was 75 percent contained this morning, according to Cal Fire.

The fire had burned 109 acres and at least one structure - an outbuilding.



Reed Fire update

As night fell Friday, fire crews seemed to be gaining ground on the Reed Fire burning south of San Andreas in Calaveras County.

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