Land Conservation Progress Update, January 2016
Land acquisition is the first step to open space conservation. The Vision Plan identified 50,000 acres of open space land that, when conserved, would significantly improve wildlife conditions, wetlands, watersheds, creeks, sensitive plant communities and healthy outdoor recreation. As of January 2016, Midpen has acquired 1,003 acres of land with $12,842,500 in funding support from Measure AA Funds.
Monte Bello Open Space Preserve
This 60-acre addition to Monte Bello is the last property needed to begin the planning process to construct and complete the Upper Stevens Creek Trail gap! This is great news for outdoor enthusiasts throughout the South Bay.
Midpen partnered with Santa Clara County Parks, which contributed $740,000 (50%) toward the $1.48 million purchase price of this property to help the District complete Vision Plan Portfolio #17 – Complete Upper Stevens Creek Trail.
Connecting the Redwoods
Once zoned for nine ranchettes, the gorgeous 353-acre Alpine Ranch adjacent to Pescadero Creek County Park in La Honda will be protected in perpetuity with $2.5 million in Measure AA funds. Funding was used to secure a permanent conservation easement to ensure that the ranch will remain in open space and allow for a hiker’s hut as part of future trail access. The property features beautiful redwood forests and wooded uplands that channel water to coastal watersheds important for salmon and steelhead recovery. The property will also connect to other protected redwood forest lands. This project is included in both Vision Plan Portfolio #15 – Redwood Protection and Salmon Fishery Conservation in the Upper Pescadero Creek Watershed and #14 – Future Regional Trail Connections and Campgrounds.
Purisima Creek Redwoods Open Space Preserve
At a 50% bargain rate, Midpen purchased an important 40-acre parcel adjacent to Purisima Creek Redwoods Open Space Preserve. This gem conserves open space, protects beautiful scenery and panoramic views, protects the Lobitos Creek watershed which provides spawning habitat for Steelhead trout and Coho salmon and its wildlife habitats in perpetuity. The property was purchased for $362,500, its fair market appraised value was $725,000. This purchase was made possible through Measure AA funds and contributes to Vision Plan Portfolio #3 – Complete the Purisima-to-the-Sea Trail and Protect and Restore Lobitos Creek.
Sierra Azul Open Space Preserve
Midpen purchased three important properties that will be added to the Sierra Azul Open Space Preserve. The fi rst was a 40-acre inholding in the Loma Prieta section of the Sierra Azul Open Space Preserve. At an elevation of 3,200’, the property features expansive views of the Santa Clara Valley, the Diablo Range, the western Santa Cruz Mountains and Monterey Bay. On a high ridgeline between two steep canyons, the parcel is also home to a wide variety of large mammals and is territory to migrating birds. The purchase was made with $400,000 of Measure AA funds and contributes to Vision Plan Portfolio #25 – Open the Loma Prieta Area at Sierra Azul.
Midpen also partnered with the Santa Clara Valley Water District (SCVWD) and POST to purchase a 117-acre parcel on Hendrys Creek with a year-round creek in the Los Gatos Creek watershed that supplies water to the Lexington Reservoir. Hendrys Creek has an important role in the local water system but requires restoration and sediment removal. This purchase was made possible with a $1.5 million contribution from SCVWD and contributes to Vision Plan Portfolio #22 – Open the Cathedral Oaks Area at Sierra Azul by preserving land in the Los Gatos Creek watershed.
Midpen purchased the 39-acre Meyer/Connolly property, which improves access on Mt. Umunhum Road and provides for a possible staff facility for the management of the Mt. Umunhum Area of Sierra Azul Open Space Preserve, Vision Plan Portfolio # 23 – Open Mt. Umunhum.
La Honda Creek Open Space Preserve
Midpen also added four properties to the La Honda Creek Open Space Preserve. A 5-acre parcel purchased for $525,000 and a 38-acre parcel purchased for $1.22 million are both heavily forested properties located across from El Corte de Madera Creek Open Space Preserve. These purchases were funded by Measure AA and will help Midpen fulfill Vision Plan Portfolio #5 – Open Upper La Honda Creek Preserve by conserving open space, increasing recreational opportunities and protecting the headwaters of Harrington Creek watershed and its wildlife habitats.
Closer to the coast, the 308-acre properties known as the Event Center and Apple Orchard were once part of the Driscoll Ranch Properties. Together, they will provide access to the Preserve from lower La Honda Road. This land provides varied coastal grassland habitat for wildlife, including mountain lions, deer, coyotes, and bobcats. San Gregorio Creek, which runs through the properties provides habitat for a wide variety of birds as well as the Steelhead and Coho salmon. This purchase was made possible with $5.8 million in Measure AA funds and contributes to Vision Plan Portfolio #7 – Open the Driscoll Ranch Area.
Accompanying the Event Center purchase, a permanent 3-acre riparian conservation easement was secured for $95,000 on an adjoining private parcel to further protect San Gregorio Creek. Measure AA funds were used to purchase the easement and further the goals of the Vision Plan Portfolio #7 to protect critical spawning habitat in the San Gregorio Creek watershed.