The Martinez Regional Land Trust was incorporated in 1989 to protect 150 acres of Alhambra Valley open space. We now call that property Stonehurst — located within the community of the same name. Just three years later, the Land Trust made possible the addition of a 325-acre Mount Wanda property to the John Muir National Historic Site.
By 1997 the stakes became much greater with Sky Ranch in the Franklin Hills, a vital 242-acre parcel with a purchase price of $685,000. In order to finance such a significant acquisition, the Land Trust had to grow into becoming a professional fundraising organization. As we reached our 10th Anniversary, membership grew to 700 individuals and the name was changed to Muir Heritage Land Trust, and more recently to John Muir Land Trust (JMLT) in honor of John Muir and his heritage of conservation.
JMLT continued acquiring critical lands with the purchase of the 80-acre Gustin Ranch in 2000, just to the north of Sky Ranch. The next priority became the protection of 247-acre Pacheco Marsh, as less than 10% of original saltwater tidal marshes remain in the Bay Area today. After a decade of effort, it was acquired by JMLT in 2001. The following year we began stewardship of the Contra Costa Goldfields, protecting 30 acres of what had been the county’s last stand of an endangered species of wildflower. In 2003, JMLT acquired Bodfish Preserve, a small but treasured Orinda property with dream-world woodlands.
Acquired in 2003, Dutra Ranch made for a perfect trifecta of three adjacent lands on the Franklin Ridge — which are now protected as 480 acres of contiguous open space. JMLT’s largest property, 702-acre Fernandez Ranch, was purchased in 2005 and fully restored to its current glory. Stunning Franklin Canyon, a long sought-after 483-acre parcel next to Fernandez Ranch, was acquired in 2010. Dramatic Acalanes Ridge was also purchased that year and opened to the public in 2011. Franklin Canyon opens for public use in early 2017.
In September, 2015 the House of Representatives passed H.R. 1289, Rep. DeSaulnier's bill to add to the John Muir National Historic Site in Martinez the 44 acres of West Hills Farm, land purchased and donated by JMLT. John Muir often walked this land with his two daughters, admiring the coast live oak trees that grow there, and the annual wildflowers that punctuate its grassy hillsides. In 2016 thousands of individuals and organizations throughout the East Bay contributed to the successful Campaign to Save Carr Ranch. These beautiful 604 acres just minutes from residents of Lamorinda are now permanently protected watershed land, essential wildlife habitat and open space for public enjoyment.