Drive to save East Bay landmark clears big hurdle

John Muir Land Trust reaches matching grant, needs $200,000 by May 31

The Painted Rock can be seen from Moraga Road in Moraga, Calif., on Friday, Sept. 7, 2018. John Muir Land Trust is raising funds to acquire the 84-acre property known as Painted Rock. (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group)

MORAGA — The campaign to save the Painted Rock property cleared a major hurdle in donations this week — but still needs $200,000 to reach its goal by the end of the month.

“With the help of hundreds of donors, we’ve accomplished the $350,000 challenge match for the Campaign to Save Painted Rock,” the John Muir Land Trust announced in an email Tuesday. “And we did it one day early. Thank you!”

The John Muir Land Trust, which last year began a $2 million campaign for Painted Rock, faced a May 1 deadline to meet the matching grant. The land trust’s campaign has now raised $1.8 million. It needs to come up with $200,000 in donations by May 31 to meet the price set by the property owner, the widow of Roger Lee Poynts. The 84-acre Painted Rock site, across from the Rheem Valley Shopping Center and Campolindo High School, would be connected to about 421 acres of open space.

The trust “has been overwhelmed with the number of donations,” it said in the email. “We are truly grateful for the generosity our donors have expressed to save this unique property for generations to come.”

Painted Rock got its name from generations of local students who have spray-painted messages on the boulders for the past 40 to 50 years.

The John Muir Land Trust envisions Painted Rock as a new community resource and a free park for hikers, cyclists, runners, dog walkers and nature lovers with its ponds, streams and grasslands. The 935-foot summit would offer panoramic views of Mount Diablo and the Las Trampas Regional Wilderness.

The site has been under pressure for development for decades, according to the land trust. Two residential developments are adding 150 new houses on adjacent properties.

Meanwhile, the John Muir Land Trust is holding a 30th anniversary gala Saturday.

The John Muir Land Trust had sought a $100,000 donation from the Moraga Town Council toward the matching grant, but council members rejected the request by a 3-2 vote on April 10. While voicing support for Painted Rock, the council and staff cited the town’s current fiscal challenges and its immediate needs to repair its infrastructure, including its aging storm drainage system.