news
photo: adam weidenbach

Featured Stories

East Bay Times | September 11, 2018

Land trust hopes to raise $2 million to preserve Moraga landmark from development

MORAGA — For more than 50 years, generations of students have taken part in a rite of passage to spray-paint witty, heartfelt and eye-catching messages — homecoming slogans, prom proposals, RIPs and about local high schools — on the boulders that face downtown Moraga.

And, over time, the hill has become known as Painted Rock, and the name stuck over what’s become a treasured sight in Moraga across from Campolindo High School.

Now, the John Muir Land Trust has announced the start of a campaign to raise $2 million to save the 84-acre Painted Rock property that would be connected to more than 420 acres of open space. The widow of the late property owner, Roger Lee Poynts, who died in 2014, has agreed to preserve Painted Rock if the land trust can come up with the funds by May 31, 2019.

+ Continue reading

Lamorinda Weekly | September 5, 2018

A campaign to preserve Painted Rock

Piece by piece, the John Muir Land Trust is weaving a tapestry of protected open space throughout the East Bay, slowly expanding amongst the hills and between developments to preserve the local wildlife and its habitats. The new patch of land that was recently added to this network is not huge, but it is significant and strategically connected. On Sept. 5 the trust announced the start of the campaign to save Painted Rock in Moraga. After Carr Ranch two years ago at the eastern boundaries of the town, this time it is right in the middle of town that a door will be opened to access 500 acres and more of connected wild habitat.

Looming over the town like a rogue billboard, the Painted Rock property gets its name from the long tradition that has sent hundreds of Campolindo High School students genially trespassing up the hill with cans of spray paint to script outrageous, funny and sometimes touching messages on the big round rock overlooking the intersection of Moraga Road and Rheem Boulevard. It was Roger Poynt's property, a resident who died unexpectedly four years ago, abandoning forever the plans he had made for the development of his dreams. His widow has agreed to sell the 84-acre hill to the JMLT for $2 million.

Peggy Cabaniss, a JMLT board member and Moraga resident for over 40 years, explains that this acquisition is part of a strategy to keep Moraga a special community with access to pristine open space. Linus Eukel, the trust's executive director, adds that this specific piece of property shares boundaries with the Palos Colorados and Rancho Laguna properties, each with vast expanses of preserved open space and planned trails. He explains that the JMLT will start working on a trail plan and appeal for volunteers to carve it. He expects the preserve to open to the public in the spring of 2020. If all goes according to plan, Painted Rock will be a free recreation resource, opening a portal to miles of multiuse trails, ponds, streams, windswept grasslands, unparalleled views of Mount Diablo and the rolling hills of central Contra Costa, all within a few minutes walk from homes in the heart of Lamorinda.
+ Continue reading

Martinez News-Gazette | July 15, 2018

JMLT focuses on Almond Ranch property

MARTINEZ, Calif – John Muir Land Trust wants Almond Ranch, calling it the “missing” 281 acres that would connect several other open-space pieces of land the organization has preserved.

The trust began around a kitchen table in 1989, when some residents sought to prevent development of a 150-acre open space area called Stonehurst.

Once that was accomplished, the organization continued to acquire properties, from the West Hills Farm where John Muir and his two daughters once walked, to Mount Wanda which had been part of Muir’s landholdings, to the 247-acre Pacheco Marsh the Trust is restoring to a natural tidal marsh state. + Continue reading

Press Release | June 25, 2018

Congressman DeSaulnier and Senator Harris’s Legislation to Expand John Muir National Historic Site Signed into Law

Washington, D.C. – Today, Congressman Mark DeSaulnier (CA-11) announced that his bill to expand the John Muir National Historic Site in Martinez, California was signed into law. The John Muir National Historic Site Expansion Act (H.R. 1719) adds an additional 44 acres of donated land to the 330 acre park to help improve access to the East Bay’s natural spaces and preserve the land for generations to come. Congressman DeSaulnier’s bill first passed in the U.S. House of Representatives by a vote of 401-to-15, was then unanimously passed in the Senate, and was signed into law by the President. Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) authored the companion bill in the U.S. Senate. + Continue reading

+ Also read East County Today

East Bay Times | April 18, 2018

Group tries to raise $4 million to preserve Carquinez-area open space

MARTINEZ — The stewards of ranches, trails and historical sites throughout the East Bay have announced an effort to raise $4 million to save a large open space property in the Martinez hills from development.

The group, known as the John Muir Land Trust, oversees 13 of Contra Costa’s most beautiful and well-traversed hiking trails, including the Acalanes Ridge and the Fernandez Ranch. They’re trying to raise $4 million by the end of 2019, and have already secured a $1 million pledge from the East Bay Regional Park District, the group said in a news release.

+ Continue reading

ABC News | April 18, 2018

Land preservation group wants to buy 'missing link' in Bay Area trail network

An East Bay land preservation group is trying to acquire a 281-acre parcel of land that they say is the missing piece of a vast network of Bay Area trails.

Community Focus | May 7, 2018

John Muir Land Trust Announces Campaign to Save Almond Ranch

John Muir Land Trust (JMLT, jmlt.org) has announced the Campaign To Save Almond Ranch, an effort to protect a stunning 281-acre property south of downtown Martinez that has been a top priority of land conservationists for decades. JMLT must raise $4 million by the end of 2019. Saving Almond Ranch from development, the alternative outcome, would preserve an intact habitat corridor for wildlife, connect important major trails for the very first time, link large conserved landscapes, and open the property’s beautiful hills along the Franklin Ridge to hikers, dog walkers, cyclists, bird watchers, equestrians, and nature lovers of all ages.

“Almond Ranch is the proverbial ‘missing piece,’” says JMLT Executive Director Linus Eukel. “All of the benefits of conservation literally intersect here. The ranch protects habitat and clean water, offers close-to-home outdoor recreation, and makes trail connections that have been on everyone’s wish list for decades.”

+ Read More

The Mercury News | April 17, 2018

Can you help with the drive to preserve land and save wildlife?
John Muir Land Trust needs $3 million to purchase highly sought after land that will connect several other parks and open spaces

DEAR JOAN: Anyone who cares about preserving wildlife habitat and spending time in nature will be thrilled to hear this news.

John Muir Land Trust has an agreement in place with the landowners and we’ve just announced the “Campaign To Save Almond Ranch.”

This delightful 281-acre ranch above Martinez has been the target of conservationists for decades because it is the proverbial missing piece that makes so many vital connections.

+ Read More

Congressman Mark DeSaulnier California's 11th Congressional District Press Release | July 11, 2017

Congressman DeSaulnier Successfully Passes Legislation to Expand John Muir National Historic Site

Washington, D.C. – Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed Congressman Mark DeSaulnier’s (CA-11) bill to expand the historic site that celebrates the life of John Muir in Martinez, CA. The John Muir National Historic Site Expansion Act (H.R. 1719) would add an additional 44 acres of donated land to the park to improve access and preserve the land for generations to come. The bill passed the House by a vote of 401-to-15 and now moves to the Senate for consideration.

+ Continue reading

Martinez Patch | June 2, 2017

East Bay Trails: Newly Expanded Fernandez Ranch Opens To Public
Breaking: A public ceremony and guided trail tours will mark the opening of 1,185 acres of habitat between Hercules and Martinez.

MARTINEZ, CA — John Muir Land Trust is holding a property dedication and public opening Saturday, June 3 of its newly expanded, 1,185-acre Fernandez Ranch off Highway 4 between Hercules and Martinez. The 483-acre property formerly known as Franklin Canyon is merging into adjacent Fernandez Ranch and receiving visitors for the first time.

+ Continue reading

John Muir Land Trust Press Release | May 18, 2017

John Muir Land Trust Opens Newly Expanded Fernandez Ranch
1,185 Acres of Pristine Habitat Between Hercules and Martinez Now Includes Former Franklin Canyon Property

Martinez, CA — On June 3, 2017 John Muir Land Trust is holding a property dedication and public opening of its newly expanded, 1,185-acre Fernandez Ranch off Highway 4 near Hercules, CA. The 483-acre property formerly known as Franklin Canyon is merging into adjacent Fernandez Ranch and receiving visitors for the first time. This pristine natural landscape is an extraordinary public resource within minutes of some of the most densely populated areas of the East Bay.

+ Continue reading

Martinez Tribune | April 21, 2017

John Muir Land Trust – a Contra Costa gem

The John Muir Land Trust (JMLT) protects the environment and saves land in Contra Costa County. JMLT is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization whose mission is protecting the places that make Contra Costa special. The Trust focuses most of it’s attention on the part of our county west of I-680. Currently it permanently protects about 3,100 acres. This figure is growing!

JMLT’s Fernandez Ranch is located off Highway 4 near Christie Road. Fernandez Ranch has lots of hiking and riding trails. The existing ranch will be extended to a total of 1,185 acres when the contiguous Franklin Canyon is opened to public use – which will happen within the next few months.

JMLT’s newest acquisition is the 604 acre Carr Ranch in Moraga. This success story is wonderful in two ways. It’s a beautiful property and it shows JMLT active in the southern part of the county (see www.jmlt.org/carrranch.html). + More

KGO810 | April 9, 2017

John Hamilton: John Muir Land Trust Offers Spectacular Views and Myriad of Outdoor Activities in East Bay Hills

KCBS | March 30, 2017

Gift Of Land To Expand John Muir Historic Site Awaits Congressional Approval

There's a plan to expand John Muir National Historic Site in Martinez but it comes with a big bureaucratic catch. John Ramos explains.

JMLT and EBMUD Celebrate Carr Ranch Partnership | March 15, 2017

MORAGA, CA -- John Muir Land Trust and East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD) celebrated the launch of their partnership to preserve Carr Ranch by hosting community leaders, elected officials, supporters and stakeholders for a morning event that ended with hikes to view the property. This unique partnership is protecting vital watershed land that is an important local source of high-quality drinking water for East Bay residents.

JMLT and EBMUD signed a Conservation Agreement in late 2016 to protect the property in perpetuity. Under this agreement, EBMUD’s role is to preserve the watershed on the property, protect wildlife habitat, maintain open spaces and natural scenery, and preserve historical ranching heritage. JMLT will manage permanent public access to Carr Ranch for light recreation such as hiking, wildlife viewing, on-leash dog walking and equestrian activities.

Carr Ranch will open to the public in late 2017.

Read more:

EBMUD Press Release | Finding Solutions: East Bay Municipal Utility District and John Muir Land Trust celebrate permanent preservation of Lamorinda watershed land
Castro Valley Forum | EBMUD Buys Ranch Bordering Local Reservoir
Lamorinda Weekly | EBMUD Celebrates Carr Ranch watershed acquisition
East Bay Times | Moraga: Spotlight on preserved ranch land
abc 7 NEWS | CARR RANCH LAND BETWEEN MORAGA & OAKLAND UNDER NEW OWNERSHIP
KRON4 | EBMUD acquires 604-acre Carr Ranch for $4.47 million, will open to hikers

John Muir Land Trust Press Release | November 22, 2016

JOHN MUIR LAND TRUST ANNOUNCES CARR RANCH IS SAVED
604 ACRES PROTECTED IN PARTNERSHIP WITH EAST BAY MUNICIPAL UTILITY DISTRICT (EBMUD)

MARTINEZ, CA — John Muir Land Trust ( JMLT) announces Carr Ranch is saved. The 604-acre cattle ranch will be permanently protected in partnership with East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD). Adjacent to the Town of Moraga, the property will be preserved as watershed land, essential wildlife habitat and open space for public enjoyment. An outpouring of donations from individuals, foundations, agencies and corporations reached the $7 million project goal needed to acquire the private property from the Carr family, who have owned the land for over a century. Contributing $4.5 million toward the purchase, East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD) will hold title to the property, and JMLT will provide public access and recreation.

John Muir Land Trust and EBMUD have signed a Conservation Agreement to protect the property in perpetuity. Under this agreement EBMUD’s role is to preserve the watershed on the property, protect wildlife habitat, maintain open spaces and natural scenery, and preserve historical ranching heritage. JMLT will manage permanent public access to Carr Ranch for light recreation such as hiking, wildlife viewing, dog walking and equestrian activities.

The undeveloped Carr Ranch property provides habitat for endangered reptiles and amphibians — and for large animals such as deer, American badger, golden eagle, and mountain lion. Its creeks and streams drain into the Upper San Leandro Reservoir, and from there into the homes of tens of thousands of East Bay families. Carr Ranch exemplifies the best of Contra Costa landscapes, an area known for some of the most beautiful scenery in the region. Terrain varies from hillsides and ridge tops to meadows and bottomlands; and the vegetation from coastal live oak and riparian woodlands to coastal scrub and annual grasses.

“We couldn’t have hoped for an outcome that better serves the public’s need for permanent protection and access to this spectacular natural landscape,” said Linus Eukel, Executive Director of John Muir Land Trust. Carr Ranch is an essential addition to the large protected area created by the Las Trampas Regional Wilderness and nearby watershed lands owned by EBMUD that drain into the Upper San Leandro Reservoir. Continued Eukel, “Carr Ranch offers spectacular views and clean drinking water that will benefit East Bay families for generations to come. And of course, permanently preserving critical wildlife habitat means that current residents — including threatened and endangered species — will benefit as well.”

+ Continue reading

East Bay Municipal Utility District | December 2, 2016

A gift for the East Bay: EBMUD and John Muir Land Trust formalize partnership to save Carr Ranch

Unique collaboration permanently protects watershed land

The East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD) and John Muir Land Trust (JMLT) announced a partnership today that saves 604-acres of gorgeous Lamorinda land for future generations.

The EBMUD Board of Directors voted unanimously and enthusiastically today to approve $4,469,600 to purchase the Carr Ranch property. The vote formalizes a partnership between EBMUD and JMLT to acquire the 604-acre cattle ranch from the Carr family, which has owned the land for over a century. Adjacent to the Town of Moraga and surrounded on three sides by EBMUD-owned lands within the Upper San Leandro watershed, Carr Ranch will be permanently preserved as watershed land, essential wildlife habitat and open space for public enjoyment. + More

East Bay Times | November 25, 2016

Moraga: EBMUD buys 604 acres to protect tap water quality

MORAGA — Nearly a square mile of scenic grazing land and oak forests in the Moraga hills is being purchased as a pollution buffer to protect a major East Bay drinking water reservoir and provide public hiking areas.

The East Bay Municipal Utility District agreed this week to spend $4.5 million to buy the 604-acre Carr Ranch from the John Muir Land Trust in an unusual partnership deal between the conservation group and public water supplier for 1.4 million people.

The water district will own and maintain the land to manage wildlife and protect against pollution and silt runoff into the Upper San Leandro Reservoir, a major drinking water source for EBMUD customers on the west side of the Oakland-Berkeley hills.

The Martinez-based land trust will manage the land to provide low-key recreation such as hiking, wildlife viewing and enjoying scenic views of San Francisco and Suisun bays. + More

East Bay Times | By Sam Richards | August 31, 2016

BREAKING NEWS - Contra Costa: John Muir Land Trust earns national accreditation

MARTINEZ -- It isn't as if the John Muir Land Trust has had any trust or credibility issues, having succeeded over a quarter century in preserving some 2,500 acres of open space, ranch land and wetlands in Contra Costa County.

But its new accreditation by the New York-based Land Trust Accreditation Commission should only help the nonprofit, with its offices in Martinez, do its work more effectively.

"We're not going to be doing anything differently," said Linus Eukel, John Muir Land Trust's executive director. "The accreditation essentially confirms what we've been doing, and positions us to go farther."

The nonprofit oversees 12 parcels of land, ranging from the Pacheco Marsh east of Martinez to the large (and adjacent) Franklin Canyon and Fernandez Ranch lands east of Hercules. The trust is negotiating to acquire the Carr Ranch property southeast of Moraga. Eukel said those talks are "going well."

Could the land trust's next target property be the hilly 297-acre Alhambra Highlands land south of Highway 4 in Martinez?

In July, the Martinez City Council and a Houston-based developer that controls the property -- still officially on track to become the 109-home Alhambra Highlands subdivision -- agreed to negotiate a possible sale of the land, part of it believed to be part of the estate of renowned naturalist John Muir. City officials said then that a land trust or other conservation group could be involved in any possible deal. Mayor Rob Schroder said this week it will be at least a yearlong negotiation process. + Continue reading

Also read:

JOHN MUIR LAND TRUST ANNOUNCES CAMPAIGN TO SAVE ALMOND RANCH | Press Release | April 18, 2018

Fernandez Ranch expansion worth a visit | The Richmond Standard | July 18, 2017

DeSaulnier, Harris Introduce Bill to Expand John Muir National Historic Site | Press Release | U.S. House of Representative | March 30, 2017

Carr Ranch Saved | Lamorinda Weekly | November 30, 2016

EBMUD acquires 604-acre Carr Ranch for $4.47 million, will open to hikers | KRON4 | November 25, 2016

John Muir Land Trust recognized, accredited | Martinez Tribune | August 2016

Local Spots Celebrate National Parks' Centennial | Lamorinda Weekly | May 18, 2016

Readers help land trust raise $100,000 | Mercury News | April 28, 2016

Gala to Give Glimpse of Carr Ranch Property | Lamorinda Weekly | April 20, 2016

$25,000 challenge grant issued in Carr Ranch campaign | Mercury News | April 7, 2016