Roddy Ranch, a 1,900-acre patch of rolling hills at the foot of Mount Diablo, has become conservation land and will serve as an important wildlife corridor, rather than the multimillion dollar estates that some Antioch city officials had wanted.
The East Bay Regional Park District (EBRPD) purchased the property east of Mount Diablo for $14.3 million, and plans to eventually turn it into a place called Deer Valley Regional Park. The land provides a buffer of undeveloped lands connecting Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve to Round Valley Regional Preserve. The property also enlarges the span of open space around the eastern side of Mount Diablo.
“The property already is habitat for endangered species and that’s the value of it, but there will be opportunities to improve that habitat by restoring ponds and other areas,” said Bob Nisbet, the EBRPD’s assistant general manager of land division.
Among the endangered and threatened species on site are the San Joaquin kit fox, the tiger salamander and the red-legged frog, among others (see photo slideshow below for a listing). Those species were at risk during the decades of dispute over a planned development for the site, which would have included a luxury home community that was abandoned after the collapse of the housing bubble.
Nisbet said that the Roddy Ranch land deal, which doesn’t include a golf course along with some other parcels within its boundaries, will remain in a “land bank” status for a few years while EBRPD creates the infrastructure to bring the public on site, including building trails and parking.
With this important linkage in place, park officials are hoping to create a trail connecting the new park to Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve and Round Valley Regional Preserve, but will first have to convince state and private landowners to grant access.
The purchase assures that the growing span of open space around Mount Diablo will be immediately preserved and the wildlife in it protected.
“Our value is from not just a public perspective, but a conservationist perspective,” Nisbet explained.
The nonprofit conservation group Save Mount Diablo is, not surprisingly, enthusiastic about the prospects.
“It’s an incredibly important piece of land,” Save Mount Diablo’s president Scott Hein told the Contra Costa Times.”We wholeheartedly support (Roddy Ranch) being at the heart of this new preserve.”