The East Bay Regional Park District is one step closer to finalizing the acquisition and kicking off conservation efforts for more than 700 acres of property adjacent to Mount Diablo State Park.
EBRPD was awarded a $7 million grant from the California Coastal Conservancy Project -- one of 12 grants from the conservation nonprofit aimed at facilitating the purchase and conservation efforts for critical properties around the Bay Area -- for the purchase of the 768-acre Finley Road Ranch property at the southern edge of Mount Diablo.
"Acquisition of the Finley Road Ranch property will preserve forever one of the largest remaining pristine open spaces adjacent to Mount Diablo State Park," EBRPD Board President Dennis Waespi said in a Feb. 17 announcement. "The California Coastal Conservancy grant provides vital funding toward the purchase of the property. Preserving the property is also a key step toward the state's 30x30 initiative of conserving 30% of the state's lands and coastal waters by 2030."
The hefty grant is the largest source of financial support yet for the purchase of the property, with the effort also being bolstered by a $300,000 grant from the California State Parks Habitat Conservation fund and $50,000 from Save Mount Diablo toward the initial purchase option, which was announced on Sept. 10.
"We have partnered with the Park District, Mount Diablo State Park, and the Coastal Conservancy for decades to create the Mount Diablo to Morgan Territory wildlife and recreation corridor," said Ted Clement, executive director of Save Mount Diablo. "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."
In addition to being one of the largest untouched parcels of land on the slopes of Mount Diablo, EBRPD and Save Mount Diablo officials are eying a large, flat area on the property as a staging area for Riggs Canyon, which would expand access to the surrounding area.
As one of two "missing staging areas" in the area, according to Save Mount Diablo officials, Finley Road Ranch has been a high priority for the conservation organization as well as the parks district for some time, as both groups seek to expand conservation efforts and maintain open spaces on the mountain and in the surrounding region.
"We very much appreciate the California Coastal Conservancy for its leadership in preserving natural lands and shorelines throughout the state and providing this critical funding," EBRPD General Manager Sabrina Landreth said. "We thank the state, our partners, and staff for their contribution toward the acquisition that supports our mission and the state's 30x30 goals to conserve nature for future generations."
The statewide 30x30 conservation effort to preserve 30% of land and coastal waters in California by 2030 has an additional connection to the parks district, with EBRPD deputy general manager Ana Alvarez serving on the committee since her appointment in August.
"The Coastal Conservancy is delighted to support acquisition of this 768-acre property and further the state's 30x30 goals by protecting this important conservation property while also providing greater access to existing parkland," said Amy Hutzel, executive director for the California Coastal Conservancy.
The $7 million grant is the final step in funding the purchase of the $11.4 million property, with Save Mount Diablo organizers estimating that the sale will close escrow by April.