The Campaign to protect Hoover Ranch project is one of the most significant conservation projects underway in northern California's Bay Delta region. John Muir Land Trust (JMLT) is leading efforts to acquire, restore, and permanently protect this 600-acre property on Bethel Island in Contra Costa County.
The Bay Delta environment is in crisis. More than 90% of native wetlands have been lost due to human activity, and climate change is making the ecosystem even more fragile. By protecting Hoover Ranch, we can begin to reverse these trends and safeguard the ecosystem that supports 750 plant and animal species. This conservation initiative will have far-reaching benefits for the region's economic vitality and the preservation of natural resources.
The Bay Delta: A Conservation Imperative
Few conservation priorities are as important to Bay Area residents as restoring and protecting the health of our San Francisco Bay waters and the rivers that flow into them—especially the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta waters. As an economic and environmental resource, the Bay Delta has few equals.
- The Delta drains more than 40 percent of California and forms the largest estuary on the western coast of the two Americas.
- Nearly half of California's migrating waterfowl and shorebirds and two-thirds of the state's spawning salmon pass through this vital habitat for 750 animal and plant species, including more than 40 aquatic species.
- Salt marshes along the Bay provide essential nutrients, refuge, and nursery habitat for fish species at risk. Some of these are found nowhere else on Earth.
- 25 million Californians depend on the Delta for drinking water. The system supplies water to millions of acres of farmland where nearly half of the country’s produce is grown.
- The health of the Bay Delta is crucial for wildlife preservation, the state’s economy, public welfare, and our quality of life.
Why Hoover Ranch Matters
Situated in the heart of the Bay Delta, Hoover Ranch holds immense value for its location alone. This privately-owned property on Bethel Island, spanning nearly two miles of shoreline, serves as a sanctuary for fish, birds, and wildlife. Birders flock to witness the greater sandhill cranes, snow geese, and nesting species like the loggerhead shrike. Migrating salmon rely on its shores each season. By protecting Hoover Ranch, we preserve the serenity, habitat, and unique character of this cherished island community.
An Ambitious Plan
One of the greatest threats to the Delta is subsidence—sinking that is caused by the drainage of wetlands and the subsequent oxidation of peat soil. This harmful process releases carbon dioxide and has caused areas, including parts of Hoover Ranch, to sink as much as 12 feet below sea level. To address these challenges and enhance climate resilience, JMLT's restoration plan for Hoover Ranch focuses on nature-based solutions. Key elements include:
- Establishing diked wetlands, riparian woodlands, and preserving sand dunes.
- Enhancing habitat for native wildlife, including special status species.
- Actively stewarding the land through monitoring and maintenance.
- Raising surface and groundwater levels to reduce levee failure risk.
- Reducing carbon emissions through sequestration and exploring carbon markets.
- Increasing resilience to natural disasters.
- Creating new access for passive recreation while preserving Bethel Island's rural character.
This comprehensive plan will establish wetlands, expand riparian woodlands, reverse subsidence, create flourishing habitat for native plants and animals, and reduce carbon emissions. It will protect the interests of human communities who reside, work, and recreate in this region of unique natural beauty.
It's Up To Us
Join the community of donors, volunteers, and advocates who are working together to protect and restore one of the most important ecosystems on the planet. Sign up below for Hoover Ranch updates and invitations to get involved.
Hoover Ranch FAQ
JMLT works with willing landowners who wish to conserve much-loved family farms and ranches in their natural state. Once acquired and protected in perpetuity, these places are carefully managed by JMLT and open to the public for passive, low-impact recreation.
JMLT has a two-year option to acquire Hoover Ranch. We are at the earliest stage when we inform the community of our plans and identify funding for the purchase. Funding can come from many sources such as federal, state, and local agencies; foundations; private individuals; and institutions. When we go into contract on a property, we do so with confidence that we will succeed at finding the necessary funds, but this is by no means guaranteed.
Arguably, there is no organization better suited for the Hoover Ranch project. Our area of focus is Contra Costa and Alameda counties. We have a record of successful conservation spanning three and a half decades. As a fully accredited land trust, JMLT has the expertise needed to negotiate the purchase, raise the funds, and then successfully steward and manage the property as a wildlife refuge and natural open space for human recreation and enjoyment. We work closely with agencies and partners needed to get the job done. Working in the Bay, Delta, and Rivers of northern California is a hugely important strategic priority of ours. Pacheco Marsh is an internationally known project along Suisun Bay.
At 600-acres, Hoover Ranch might be the largest undeveloped parcel of land in Contra Costa County. One look at its location on a map reveals its importance as a conservation priority in the Bay-Delta ecosystem.
We’re still determining the full cost. See the Costs of Conservation to learn about the many expenses that are associated with a land conservation project. Especially important are appraisals, environmental assessment reports, and detailed plans for what happens after acquisition. You’re hearing about the Hoover Ranch project at a stage earlier than when we might normally announce our intentions. That’s because we are especially interested in notifying and hearing from residents of Bethel Island and other interested parties. We’ll announce a campaign goal and deadline soon.
JMLT has received enthusiastic support for the Campaign for Hoover Ranch. We would love to hear from you. Please email JMLT at firstname.lastname@example.org and include Hoover Ranch in the subject line.