East Contra Costa County, CA
The East Bay Regional Park District today announced the completion of two substantial land purchases in east Contra Costa County. Together the 960-acre Dainty Ranch and the adjacent 1,885-acre Roddy Ranch encompass three valleys and ridges (Deer, Briones and Horse Valleys), providing the potential to create the body of the future Deer Valley Regional Park as envisioned by the District’s 2013 Master Plan. “This is a significant conservation victory for the East Bay,” said General Manager Robert E. Doyle. “The combined acquisitions preserve a huge and beautiful area of open space with a rich local history.”
The new additions to the Park District will provide excellent public access enhancements – such as the opportunity for new trail connections between Black Diamond Mines and Round Valley regional parks. “Along with property owned by Contra Costa County Water District and the unopened Marsh Creek State Park,” said District Land Acquisition Manager Liz Musbach, “these acquisitions will create a circle of public property connecting the northerly side of Mount Diablo State Park to the southeasterly side adjacent to the Morgan Territory Regional Preserve.”
Dainty Ranch is located along Briones Valley Road in an unincorporated area, approximately three miles west of the City of Brentwood and 2.5 miles south of the City of Antioch; it abuts the southwest corner of the Roddy Ranch property.
The Dainty Ranch property encompasses an important open space corridor for wildlife movement, connecting protected lands to the northwest at Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve to the protected lands in southeast Contra Costa County such as the Marsh Creek State Park, Round Valley Regional Preserve, and Los Vaqueros Watershed lands.
The property includes substantial grassland and oak woodland habitats as well as areas of chaparral, oak savanna, wetlands, ponds, and the riparian area of Briones Valley creek.
Roddy Ranch also offers important biological resources, as well as outstanding public access opportunities. The irregularly shaped property features varied topography. Deer Valley traverses the central area and is flanked by prominent ridgelines on both sides. Horse Valley, a secondary geographic feature, is located in the north-central portion of the property. Deer Creek runs along the northeast edge of Deer Valley.
The ranches’ habitat types are known to support the California red-legged frog, California tiger salamander, San Joaquin pocket mouse, American badger, burrowing owl, mule deer, coyote, and a variety of raptors including the red-tailed hawk and red-shouldered hawk. Special status species with known occurrences in the surrounding include the San Joaquin kit fox, Alameda whipsnake, golden eagles, northern harrier, and a number of species of bats.
Both ranches have historically been used for cattle grazing. On the Roddy property, two sites related to historic ranching and farming complexes have been found to be potentially eligible for the California Register of Historic Resources. Continued grazing of the properties will be under the auspices of the Park District consistent with the District’s wildland vegetation management policies.
The Park District purchased both properties in partnership with the East Contra Costa County Habitat Conservancy (ECCCHC). Dainty Ranch was purchased on July 15 for $5.4 million, with funding provided through the California Wildlife Conservancy Board by a Federal Section 6 grant and a California State Proposition 84 grant, together with the Park District’s Measure WW. The Roddy Ranch purchase was finalized on July 24 for $14.2 million with funding from the California Wildlife Conservancy Board, Measure WW, and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.
District Board Member Ted Radke remarked, “We’re delighted to preserve these beautiful open spaces, in partnership with the ECCCHC, as wildlife habitat and the site of a future regional park.”
Before the land may be opened to the public, the District will conduct environmental studies and create the Land Use Plan for the future Regional Park. In the meantime, both sites will be placed into land bank status. “It’s a large area to study and plan for and this is just the beginning of the process,” noted Doyle, “but it’s an important first step toward the envisioned Deer Valley Regional Park.”
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 114,000+ acres in 65 parks including over 1,200 miles of trails for hiking, biking, horseback riding and nature learning.