The East Bay Regional Park District Board of Directors voted unanimously Tuesday to purchase 646 acres of farmland in eastern Contra Costa County to expand the District’s holdings in the ecologically sensitive Delta area.
The property will eventually be restored to tidal and freshwater wetlands, alkali meadow and oak savanna, providing habitat for the Swainson’s hawk, giant garter snake, silvery legless lizard, western burrowing owl and tri-colored blackbird, among other species. In addition to providing habitat for special status species, the restoration will also address persistent flooding issues in the community of Knightsen.
Park District planners also hope the property will provide a key trail link - both for hikers and bicyclists as well as kayakers - connecting Big Break Regional Shoreline and the future Delta Access Regional Recreation Area.
“This is great news for eastern Contra Costa County as well as the whole East Bay,” said Board member Diane Burgis, whose ward includes the Delta area. “Not only will we be providing recreational opportunities, but we’ll be preserving beautiful Delta land for wildlife as well as future generations.”
East Contra Costa County Habitat Conservancy Board Chair Randy Pope agreed.
"This presents a unique opportunity for the region," Pope said. "We can conserve valuable habitat on the shoreline of the Delta, provide more recreation opportunities, and address the risk of flooding in a vulnerable area."
The Park District is purchasing the property from the Nunn family, a longtime Contra Costa County farming family, for its appraised fair-market value of $6.1 million. The East Contra Costa County Habitat Conservancy will provide 90 percent of the purchase price (through state and federal land conservation grants) and the Park District will pay the remaining 10 percent (through Measure WW funds).
The Park District will lease the land back to the Nunn family for two years, beginning Jan. 31, 2016, before moving ahead with restoration plans in partnership with the Conservancy.
The property is located 2 miles north of Brentwood in the community of Knightsen.
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 1,250 miles of trails for hiking, biking, horseback riding and nature learning.
Carolyn Jones, Public Information Supervisor