Some properties are prime prospects for conservation and permanent protection from development because of the vital role they play in the larger landscape. Buffer Lands are those that provide an additional layer of protection from commercial and residential activities, and any other factors that threaten natural landscape integrity. These are important missing pieces that help to complete the whole puzzle.
The Ditmer property near Hercules is such a place. In February, 2021 the family of local landowner James Ditmer generously donated from his estate to JMLT a property that preserves the integrity of Fernandez Ranch and other conserved properties in Franklin Canyon. The Ditmer parcel parallels the railroad and Highway 4 just north of Franklin Canyon Golf Course. While perhaps easily overlooked by the casual observer, these 30 acres form an important buffer zone for the adjacent 2,124 acres of Crockett Hills Regional Park owned by East Bay Regional Park District. This grassland ecosystem provides habitat to myriad native wildlife species and its popular trails include a sizable 4.5-mile segment of the Bay Area Ridge Trail.
Conveying the property to JMLT was an easy decision for Diane Ditmer when she became executor of her late father James’ estate. The attorneys of Wendell Rosen LLP recommended the donation to Diane and her brother and step-brother, Douglas Ditmer and Kevin Johnson, as a financially sound strategy for managing what they discovered to be a complicated asset. Local land trusts such as JMLT are able to move very quickly and provide 501c3 tax benefits not afforded by agencies and other potential recipients. JMLT benefits by acquiring land that serves the conservation goals of the larger landscape and preserves the delicate vitality of our holdings nearby—1,185-acre Fernandez Ranch and Contra Costa Goldfields.
While the Ditmer parcel will likely not be opened to the public any time soon because of difficult access and its adjacency to dangerous transportation routes, the property greatly enhances the nearby parks and open spaces that thousands of nature lovers enjoy every year.
Gifts of Land
JMLT gratefully receives donations of land and property every year. Many of these become conserved properties. Other times, generous donors make gifts of homes and parcels of land that are not suitable for conservation, but that we sell for funds that then support the work of the land trust. Every donated parcel makes a huge difference. Learn more about donations of land.