John Muir Land Trust
Jun 02, 2015 03:09PM
● By Becky Coburn
Linus Eukel, Executive Director of the former Muir Heritage Land Trust has announced the organization has changed its name to John Muir Land Trust, effective immediately. According to Eukel, “John Muir is an icon, whose name is synonymous with the principles of conservation upon which our land trust was conceived over 25 years ago. We have adopted his full name as most accurately symbolic of our ongoing mission today.” The name change was announced at the organization’s Pure Muir Gala that took place at the U.S. National Park Service John Muir National Historic Site in Martinez.
JMLT’s name change comes at a pivotal moment, as the organization has recently unveiled its Saving Contra Costa campaign to raise $25 million. “We have already protected over 2,000 acres of prime Contra Costa open space that would have otherwise been developed. With this campaign, we aim to more than double that number,” said Eukel.
The campaign began with efforts to acquire a spectacular 44-acre property called West Hills Farm, immediately adjacent to the Mount Wanda section of the John Muir National Historic Site. Mount Wanda is a 325-acre parcel, which was protected by the fledgling land trust in 1991. The West Hills Farm acquisition is scheduled for completion at the end of May, as $1 million in project costs are raised. Eukel says, “If not for protection by JMLT, the property would be developed as residential housing.”
Eukel also announced the next major element of the Saving Contra Costa campaign, a large and critically important property called Carr Ranch. The ranch is located in central Contra Costa at the southern boundary of Lamorinda (Lafayette, Moraga, & Orinda), adjacent to Alameda County. It features over 600 acres of stunning ridgelines, unique rock formations, gorgeous valleys and sweeping views of the eastern Bay Area, delta and surrounding hills.
According to Eukel, “Carr Ranch has been owned for nearly 100 years by the Carr family. It exemplifies the cultural legacy of California ranches and the families that have taken care of them.” Discussing the importance of regional water he continues, “The past four years in California have been the driest on record in 80 years, and perhaps the last 400. Ongoing drought, climate change and population growth pose significant threats to our local water supplies. Situated in the Upper San Leandro watershed, adjacent to the Upper San Leandro Reservoir, JMLT acquisition of Carr Ranch provides a onetime opportunity to permanently protect high quality Bay Area drinking water at its source.”
In terms of wildlife habitat, Carr Ranch serves as a prime example of local biodiversity. It is home to an exceptional variety of foliage including coastal live oak woodlands, riparian woodlands, coastal scrub and annual grasslands. Nearly all of the property is critical habitat for the threatened Alameda whipsnake. Likewise, Buckhorn Creek and numerous ponds on the property provide breeding and foraging habitat for the endangered California red-legged frog. Carr Ranch is also home to golden eagle, mountain lion, American badger, western pond turtle and many other species essential to our ecosystem.
Once acquired by JMLT, Carr Ranch will be opened to the public, providing an unparalleled source of recreation for surrounding communities. Much like JMLT’s existing Fernandez Ranch property, Carr Ranch will offer myriad opportunities for hiking, cycling, birding and equestrian activities.
West Hills Farm represents the eleventh property to be protected by JMLT. Their previous acquisitions since 1989 include Fernandez Ranch, Franklin Canyon, Acalanes Ridge, Sky Ranch, Dutra Ranch, Gustin Ranch, Mount Wanda, Contra Costa Goldfields, Pacheco Marsh, Bodfish Preserve and Stonehurst. Carr Ranch will represent the twelfth property under John Muir Land Trust’s protection.
The total project budget for Carr Ranch is $7 million and JMLT hopes to close escrow by June 2016. With this major acquisition, the organization will be well on its way to achieving the goals set forth in the Saving Contra Costa campaign. According to Eukel, “It has been just over 100 years since John Muir’s death, but his legacy of conservation is more relevant than ever.
Contributions to the Saving Contra Costa Campaign can be made at the John Muir Land Trust’s website, www.jmlt.org.
The battle for conservation will go on
It is the universal warfare between right and wrong. – John Muir