The East Bay Regional Park District has entered into an agreement to consider purchasing a 768-acre Finley Road Ranch property, the largest portion of unprotected open space adjacent to Mount Diablo State Park.
News of the agreement was announced by outgoing EBRPD Director Beverly Lane at Save Mount Diablo's 50th anniversary gala on Sept. 10.
"In a lot of ways this is my opportunity to say goodbye to the Park District with another great success," Lane said in a statement. "There have been many successes but among them, the development of the Iron Horse Regional Trail, the creation of Thurgood Marshall Regional Park in Concord, and now the opportunity to conserve Finley Road Ranch and its promise of a future staging area will be among the most important."
Lane announced earlier this year that she would be retiring from the district at the end of her current term in the EBRPD Ward 6 seat at the end of the year. John Mercurio is the sole candidate in an uncontested race to replace her on the district's Board of Directors.
The Finley Road Ranch property is near Riggs Canyon in the southern portion of Mount Diablo, extending into the park and the Morgan Territory Regional Preserve.
"Finley Road Ranch is an opportunity for the public to easily reach Mount Diablo and Morgan Territory Regional Preserve," Lane said. " It's a spectacular property, most of it unseen by anyone other than the owners for over a hundred years."
The option to purchase the property cost EBRPD $200,000, with the pricetag for the property set at $11.4 million should they move forward with the purchase. The deadline for the purchase is Nov. 22, with the option to extend it through March 24 for an additional $200,000.
"We are so pleased to support our good partners at the park district by donating $50,000 as 25% of the at-risk option payment to help secure the purchase option for Finley Road Ranch, which will provide time to raise the funds needed to acquire and protect the property," said Ted Clement, Save Mount Diablo's executive director
In addition to assisting with the $200,000 payment, Save Mount Diablo supported the acquisition through advocacy work with elected officials and funding agencies.
"Finley Road Ranch is the key to letting people into Riggs Canyon. Its views are splendid, too -- the valley, the mountain, it's one of those spots that people are going to be eager to hike to and enjoy," Lane said. "Thank you to Save Mount Diablo for their important contribution toward the purchase option."
The acquisition would mean that EBRPD would have a site to develop a staging area at the mouth of Riggs Canyon, and increase access to the network of trails in the remote area.
"This property will open up Riggs Canyon and make many miles of trails and thousands of acres easily accessible so that the public can better connect with nature," Clement said. "We also stand ready to help the park district raise the remaining funds required to acquire this special landscape."