A national nonprofit has purchased a sprawling 3,654-acre ranch near San Jose, California, with plans to convert it into a new nature preserve with trails for hikers.
As one of the last remaining private ranches along the ecologically sensitive Coyote Ridge, the 6-square-mile swath will protect vital wildlife habitat and serve as a critical link along the iconic Bay Area Ridge Trail.
The Conservation Fund acquired Richmond Ranch to ensure the property will be permanently protected from development.
The 15 square-km ranch has long been a conservation priority, with many nonprofits and government agencies trying to acquire it over the last 20 years.
The Conservation Fund purchased the acreage for $16 million from the China-based company Z&L Properties, which has owned the property since 2016.
Z&L agreed to offer a deep discount from the appraised value of nearly $35 million to aid in the conservation. The Fund structured the purchase with financial support from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and the Wildlife Conservation Network, and will hold the ranch until public park agencies, like the Santa Clara Valley Habitat Agency, can assemble financing and complete planning to take ownership.
The San Francisco Chronicle reported that Z&L had been snapping up real estate around the Bay Area for years and “its purchase of the ranch for $25 million eight years ago came as a disappointment to South Bay conservationists.” But recently they sought to offload the property.
“We were not expecting it to come back on the market, and we’re very excited the deal came through,” said Eric Ross, Santa Clara County Parks and Recreation senior real estate agent.
“We’re thrilled that The Conservation Fund was able to bring together the partners and financing to finally achieve the goal of protecting Richmond Ranch permanently,” said Dan Medeiros, The Conservation Fund’s conservation project manager.
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“Protecting it has the potential to change the region’s landscape, connecting fragmented parkland and habitats and delivering so many benefits — to wildlife and nature and to people in surrounding communities.”
The land is home to several endangered and threatened species, including puma, American badger, Tule elk, bobcat, gray fox and coyote.
By linking with a number of state parks and existing protected areas, the property maintains vital habitat connectivity that allows wildlife to move and migrate between the Santa Cruz Mountains and the Diablo Range. It will also link to the proposed Bay Area Ridge Trail, offering a trailhead near San Jose.
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“We all recognize the Coyote Ridge corridor as critical to state-wide wildlife connectivity, and protecting Richmond Ranch represents a major step forward,” said Dan Winterson, who manages the conservation portfolio at the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation. “And thanks to the great work of The Conservation Fund and generosity of Z&L Properties, we are able to get a tremendous return on investment for everyone who cares about conservation.”
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