The National Audubon Society’s Starr Ranch is a 4,000-acre wildlife sanctuary situated in Trabuco Canyon within an unincorporated portion of southeast Orange County, California. The National Audubon Society’s mission is to protect birds and the places they need, leveraging science, advocacy, education, and conservation to do so. Starr Ranch, one of the organization’s local outposts, offers innovative land management and education to conserve and manage regional wildlands.
The ranch hosts various volunteers throughout the year, many helping with habitat restoration including the removal of invasive weeds and the protection of endangered coastal sage grub. All efforts are aimed at preserving the overall habitat and protecting bird species as well as many additional native animals including mountain lions, mule deer, bobcats, and foxes.
Starr Ranch provides boarding for some of its seasonal volunteers, and a five-bedroom home onsite at the ranch has provided shelter for many decades. However, with the existing roof installed in 1981, Pete DeSimone, manager at Starr Ranch, noticed the home was overdue for some repair work.
“Some of the shingles were coming off,” says DeSimone. “And with nobody utilizing the home during much of the COVID-19 pandemic, mountain mice had infiltrated through holes in the roof. There was serious damage, and it was obvious it was time to re-roof the structure and fix issues inside so we could again welcome volunteers overnight in the home.”
DeSimone called on McCormack Roofing to handle the project. Established in 1998, McCormack has a decades-long history of providing quality roofing, construction, and energy-related contracting services throughout Southern California. The company has completed over 10,000 roof installations.
“I showed the McCormack Roofing team how woodpeckers had been drilling holes into the roof and jamming acorns in to store them there,” adds DeSimone. “Once the acorns are in, the woodpeckers can’t retrieve them, but unfortunately mice can get in. That’s how they had gotten inside the home.”
McCormack Roofing’s Thurston Tsui, estimator, and Matt Baker, production manager, introduced Pete DeSimone to an alternate, high-performance roofing material that would be optimal for the home – stone-coated steel roofing. An extremely lightweight roofing material that benefits from the structural strength of steel, the roofing system is also optimal for use in regions prone to wildfire.
“Fire is a real issue in the canyon and a series of them have come through here over the years including the Indian, Holy, and Ortega Fires,” says DeSimone. “Luckily we have mostly avoided damage, but we are always at risk.”
“With fire being such a worry here, we utilized two layers of underlayment underneath the new roof to provide added protection from fire,” says Matt Baker. “The stone-coated steel roof system is a great, lasting solution for the Audubon Society.”
Two of McCormack Roofing’s expert installers were able to complete the retrofit in about a week, finishing up in September. In addition to installing the roof, the McCormack team cleaned out the structure’s attic, removed old insulation, and blew in replacement R-30 insulation. The stone-coated steel roof installed on the home is Class A fire rated, provides performance against hail and wind, and is extremely durable. It also comes in numerous profiles and hues to complement any residential style and is 100 percent recyclable. “Ultimately, this steel roof is tighter than the shingles we removed and it will do a better job at preventing pests from entering the Starr Ranch residence,” adds Baker. “Additionally, we shouldn’t expect to see any more problems with woodpeckers, mice, and acorns.”