On Tuesday, November 18th the East Bay Regional Park District Board of Directors authorized the acceptance of the dedication of three parcels and two trail easements totaling more than 989.8 acres in the Hayward hills, along with the acquisition of a maintenance access easement and a trail easement in the cities of Union City and Fremont, to expand park opportunities and trail connections in southern Alameda County. The dedication of the three parcels in Hayward, by Stonebrae L.P., a Delaware developer, represents the second largest acquisition of open space ever accepted by the Park District. Coincidentally, the largest donation was 1,200- acres of land bequeathed by Mildred, Jeanette, and Edith Meyers in the early 1990’s to create what is now Dry Creek Pioneer Regional Park. The new acquisition will connect existing open portions of Dry Creek and Garin Regional Parks and increase the parks’ land mass by almost 20% of their current 4,755 acres. The acquisition “will permanently protect public trail access and will bring almost 1,000 acres of the visually stunning and ecologically vital Walpert Ridge under District management and conservation,” said General Manager Robert E. Doyle. In addition to extending the park’s boundaries, the dedication will also make it possible to develop a 3.5-mile segment of the Bay Area Ridge Trail. The city of Hayward first considered residential development on Walpert Ridge in the late 1970’s and it finally approved the construction of 650 single family houses atop the ridge in 1998. In 2001, the Park District successfully negotiated a donation of open space and trail and local access to another historic site within the parks known as the Ukraina Loop. In 2005, the development was annexed into the Walpert Ridge Zone of Benefit in order to fund the long-term operational maintenance of the open space and trails, and the protection of the Alameda whipsnake and the California red-legged frog habitat found on the property. “This acquisition has been over 35 years in the making, and it marks a significant achievement for the land conservation community,” said Doyle. The parcels border much of the eastern boundary of Garin/Dry Creek parks, extend northward to the North Garin parcel, which in turn connects to the Five Canyons trail system, and continue south of the Stonebrae Golf Course. As a condition for the development of the housing project, the city of Hayward required the developer Stonebrae to construct the 3.5-mile segment of the Bay Area Ridge Trail, which will pass through the residential area and along the golf course. The segment, upon completion, will be maintained and operated by the Park District. The acquisition of an additional trail easement near Stonebrae Elementary School and the neighboring Hayward Area Recreation District’s sports park will grant permanent access to the Ukraina Loop Trail, formerly known as the Carden Lane Trail. A portion of this trail will also serve as an Emergency Vehicle and Maintenance Access (EVMA) easement for the Stonebrae development. A license agreement for a small area near the end of Carden Lane for potential parking area was also offered to the Park District. At the Board meeting, the Park District also announced the settlement of eminent domain proceedings and the acquisition of two easements over a portion of private property in the cities of Union City and Fremont. These acquisitions culminate more than seven years of negotiations and will help close gaps in the Bay Area Ridge Trail south of Garin Regional Park leading to Vargas Plateau Regional Park. The Park District will pay the land owners $475,000 for a 20-foot wide 3.64-mile public recreational trail easement and a 3.85-mile EVMA easement. Both easements alignments share an additional 1.33-mile dirt path that begins at the southern edge of Garin Regional Park, and traverse a property situated west of Palomares Road and north of Niles Canyon Road, along cliffs overlooking the San Francisco Bay to the west, and Niles Canyon and Sunol Ridge to the east. The 3.64-mile recreational trail is designed for multi-use, single-track, non-vehicular use. It follows portions of older ranching roads, swings southeast toward Fremont’s Vallejo Mill Park, Alameda Creek Regional Trail, and Vargas Plateau. It will be built and maintained by the Park District. The 3.85-mile EVMA easement is located along an existing ranch road that joins Garin/Dry Creek Pioneer to Mission Boulevard. The maintenance of this easement will be split 50/50 between the Park District and the land owners. image002 The Park District accepted the dedication of three parcels totaling 989.8 acres in the Hayward hills. image003 View looking west from Parcel A to the Stonebrae residential development and the San Francisco Bay. image004 The Park District acquired two easements over a portion of private property in the cities of Union City and Fremont. The acquisitions will help close gaps in the Bay Area Ridge Trail south of Garin Park leading to Vargas Plateau. image005 The two easements afford spectacular vistas along cliffs overlooking the San Francisco Bay to the west, and Niles Canyon and Sunol Ridge to the east. The East Bay Regional Park District is a system of beautiful public parks and trails in Alameda and Contra Costa counties east of San Francisco Bay, established in 1934. The system comprises 119,000 acres in 65 parks including over 1,400 miles of trails for hiking, biking, horseback riding and nature learning.