Transfer of Sonoma Mountain Parkland Approved

August 19, 2014 in News

The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors, acting concurrently as directors of the Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation & Open Space District, on Aug. 19, 2014 authorized the transfer of fee title of the Sonoma Mountain properties, five District acquisitions totaling 736 acres, from the District to Regional Parks, subject to a conservation easement and recreation covenant.

Over several years, the District was able to purchase the contiguous properties from willing sellers. With the addition of one property already owned by Regional Parks, the chain reaches from Sonoma Mountain Road to Jack London State Park and protects one of the most significant view sheds in the County.

 Since July 2005, the District has worked cooperatively with Regional Parks, California State Department of Parks and Recreation (State Parks), Bay Area Ridge Trail Council and the California State Coastal Conservancy to develop a trail plan to connect four of the acquired properties and the Regional Parks-owned property. This collaborative effort has resulted in a new 4.25-mile Bay Area Ridge Trail segment across the north slope of Sonoma Mountain, connecting the properties to Jack London State Historic Park, plus access road improvements and the development of a parking area and trailhead on Jacobs Ranch off of Sonoma Mountain Road.

“The collaboration of the Open Space District, Regional Parks and other partners on this project offers citizens the opportunity for wonderful outdoor exercise while experiencing some of the most beautiful views in Sonoma County. The District worked hard to assemble these contiguous properties and develop the trail that honors the land’s conservation values. And now Regional Parks will open and manage the land for everyone to enjoy,” said Susan Gorin, First District Supervisor.

The trail provides initial public access on all properties except the fifth acquisition, Walsh Ranch, which includes the summit of Sonoma Mountain. This property was not included in the trail plan, as it was not owned by the District when trail planning occurred. Regional Parks intends to open the property to the general public before the end of the year, after replacement of the vehicular bridge over Matanzas Creek, which is expected to occur in the fall. Full access to Walsh Ranch will be available after planning and construction work is completed, with periodic guided access in the meantime.

“We are very grateful for the efforts of the Open Space District and its partners - the Bay Area Ridge Trail Council and the Coastal Conservancy - in creating this breathtaking park. It’s a real gift to the people of Sonoma County, and we look forward with great anticipation to opening the park this fall”, said Regional Parks Director, Caryl Hart.

When the District transfers fee title to the County, the District will receive a conservation easement that generally limits uses and activities on the property to natural resource protection, recreational and educational uses, and compatible agriculture, and requires that revenue generated on the property be spent on the property. The District will also receive a recreation covenant that obligates the County to provide public access to the property in perpetuity.

“Thanks to the District, our partner Regional Parks, and generous voters, the public will soon be able to experience one of the finest trails in the county. An important link in the Bay Area Ridge Trail, this 730 acre property includes the only two remaining redwood groves on Sonoma Mountain, as well as critical watershed land,” said Bill Keene, General Manager of the Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District.

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