By General Manager Robert E. Doyle
The East Contra Costa County Habitat Conservancy was created in 2007 to implement the East Contra Costa County Habitat Conservation Plan, a collaborative effort among environmentalists, housing developers, utility companies, public agencies, and community leaders to permanently protect open space and sensitive habitat in East Contra Costa County. The East Bay Regional Park District is the primary partner in land appraisal, acquisition, and management. The Conservancy typically funds staff time, acquisition cost, and a portion of operating costs.
The conservation plan has been highly successful in preserving habitat for threatened species, such as the rare red-legged frog, and other wildlife. Together, over the past decade the Park District and Conservancy have purchased nearly 13,500 acres of open space habitat in East Contra Costa County – land that is permanently protected with balanced public access.
The conservation plan allows for a more efficient, better-coordinated program of protecting wildlife habitat. Fees paid by developers to offset habitat loss are deposited with the Conservancy where they are used to purchase large, contiguous habitat rather than individual developers purchasing small, disconnected properties.
A recent example is the planned joint purchase of 320+ acres in Byron by the Park District and the Conservancy. Once transferred, the land will be part of the District’s planned Byron Vernal Pools Regional Preserve.
Other Regional Parks expanded with funding from the Conservancy include Black Diamond Mines, Vasco Hills and future parklands at Deer Valley.
In total, the Conservancy has invested over $59.5 million dollars and permanently protected over 13,480 acres in East Contra Costa County. The Conservancy plans to preserve 30,300 total acres by 2037.
The Park District congratulates the Conservancy on its 10-year anniversary and looks forward to continuing to work together to preserve and protect open space in East Contra Costa County.
Robert Doyle is the general manager of the East Bay Regional Park District, the largest regional park district in the United States, with 15 million visitors per year to its 73 parks, 1,250 miles of trails on 121,00 plus acres of open space.
Dave Mason, Public Information Supervisor