The East Bay Regional Park District Board of Directors voted unanimously Tuesday to enter into an option to acquire 362 acres of the former Wiedemann Ranch on the western edge of San Ramon.
The stunning, pristine parcel will connect Bishop Ranch Open Space Preserve and Dublin Hills Regional Park, preserving one of the most visible hilltops in the San Ramon Valley and providing a critical link in the popular Calaveras Ridge Trail.
“When you look west from the Valley, you’ll see the Park District has been stitching together parks that preserve the ridgelines. There’s Las Trampas, Bishop Ranch, Dublin Hills and now this. This is the missing jewel in the necklace,” said Park District Board Member Beverly Lane, whose district includes the Wiedemann property.
The Park District bought the property from the Wiedemann family for $2,048,000, its appraised fair market value. The funding will come from Measure WW, a $500 million bond approved by Alameda and Contra Costa county voters in 2008 to preserve open space and wildlife habitat in the East Bay.
The property will eventually become part of Bishop Ranch Open Space Preserve, nearly doubling the park’s size to just over 800 acres. Until a land-use plan is completed and approved, the Wiedemann property will be land-banked.
“The property offers amazing views of the San Ramon Valley, the Livermore Valley, Mt. Diablo and Las Trampas,” said Elizabeth Musbach, the Park District’s land acquisition manager. “But equally important, this purchase prevents the property from ever being developed.”
The Wiedemann ranch dates from the 1860s, when German immigrant Christian Wiedemann purchased 160 hilltop acres for a cattle ranch. Over the next century, the ranch expanded to more than 4,000 acres in the San Ramon Valley, and portions of the property are now operated by the fifth generation of Wiedemanns.
The new parkland includes rolling hills, old ranch roads, seasonal creeks, buckeye forests and grassland, as well as habitat for rare and endangered species. Its high point is 1,719-foot Harlan Hill. An area known as Big Canyon lies on the southern end.
“It’s an extraordinary piece of property, and it’s just beautiful in the spring,” Lane said. “This is a very significant and positive addition to the San Ramon Valley.”
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.