On January 14, the Board of the East Bay Regional Park District authorized an agreement with the Antioch Unified School District (AUSD) that will permit the District to acquire approximately 191.45 acres of land known as “Moller Ranch.” The property is located on Somersville Road in unincorporated Contra Costa County, immediately south of the Antioch city limits at the northern entrance to Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve.
“The Moller Ranch property is a critical acquisition which will complete the northern entrance and gateway to Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve,” said EBRPD Board President Ayn Wieskamp. “We’re looking forward to the opportunity to improve access to the existing park.”
EBRPD Land Acquisition Manager Liz Musbach noted the property’s location could allow the Park District to move some staff functions closer to the entry to the park. “It would be great for visitors to be able to stop sooner for maps and to ask questions,” Musbach noted. “We are also looking at possibly adding a loop trail in that area, and the property’s historic structures offer the opportunity to develop educational programs for the community.” The District will first develop a Land Use Plan that will determine the uses of the property. ?
The Moller Ranch property was originally operated as a dairy, evidenced by the 1903 dairy barn and additional structures. The property is predominately open grasslands with stands of blue oaks and California buckeyes, bisected by Markley Creek. The creek supports a degraded but persistent riparian plant community in the southeast corner of the property. The District has submitted a grant application to the State Department of Parks and Recreation to help fund the preservation of Moller Ranch’s riparian, oak savannah and upland grassland habitat.
The Park District has long considered the Moller Ranch as a potential addition to the park; negotiations began in the mid-1980s. The Park District has managed the property since October of 2012 under an interim agreement with AUSD, and made various infrastructure improvements. A third party, Aviano Farms LLC, is purchasing a conservation easement over much of the property, as mitigation for two development projects in the City of Antioch. The Park District will purchase the underlying fee interest to this acreage, as well as the remaining 35.82± acres of unencumbered fee interest.
Initial funding will come from the District’s bond measure WW, passed in 2009. The purchase price is $305,782, some of which may come from outside grant funding, to be determined. The purchase will be made in stages, and is expected to be complete in December of 2016. A map and additional details are available in the January 14 Board Packet.
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 study.
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