SLT in the News

FUNDRAISING DEADLINE EXTENDED IN EFFORT TO SAVE 1,500 ACRES OF SENSITIVE HABITAT AND PUBLIC TRAILS

Author: Solano Land Trust
Date: Apr 02, 2012

Solano Land Trust must raise final $3 million by July 31 or will lose option to purchase

Fairfield, Calif. – Solano Land Trust today announced it has been granted an extension in its campaign to complete its purchase of Rockville Trails, 1500 acres of sensitive habitat that forms the southwest gateway to the Western Hills of the Blue Ridge Berryessa Natural Area. The Land Trust secured an option to buy the property for a total of $13.5 million as a result of a legal settlement in June 2011. To date, $8.5 million of the purchase price has been secured through public and private grants and individual donations, and the Land Trust anticipates receiving an additional $2 million in July.

The legal settlement that made the purchase possible brought an end to a decades-long legal conflict over this beautiful natural area in Solano County. The agreement between plaintiffs Green Valley Landowners Association and the Sierra Club and defendant Solano County brought an end to more than thirty years of conflict over the Rockville Trails site, which is located north of I-80 approximately halfway between San Francisco and Sacramento.

“It is thrilling to have gotten so close to our fundraising goals, and we are grateful for the additional time to finish raising the necessary funds to purchase this special property,” said Nicole Byrd, Executive Director of Solano Land Trust. “We are calling on all Bay Area residents who enjoy spending time outdoors to consider supporting this effort. This is the kind of opportunity that we may not see again for decades, particularly once land prices start increasing in the future.”

If Solano Land Trust succeeds in securing the necessary funds to purchase the property, it will be preserved as an accessible natural park and a working ranch and will add a significant swath of protected contiguous native habitat to the region. The trails on the property will be open for equestrian uses in addition to hiking and biking. The property is intended to ultimately connect trails and natural areas from Fairfield to Skyline Wilderness Park in the Napa Valley and the Napa River as part of the Bay Area Ridge Trail.

Rockville Trails is home to a wide variety of native flora and fauna, including 800-year-old oak trees and native grassland, bobcats, deer and coyotes. The undeveloped site features steep hills and plateaus and is rich in biological resources, including sensitive species and rare habitats, such as broad grass savannahs as well as blue oak and coast live oak woodlands. Rockville Trails is a key entry point into the Blue Ridge Berryessa Natural Area, 800,000 acres of intact habitat that stretches from Solano County into Lake County. The property also falls within watershed lands that drain into Suisun Marsh and creeks that host endangered steelhead trout.

“We believe that part of what makes the Bay Area a great place to live is easy access to natural park areas,” said Jim Syar, President of Syar Industries, Inc. Susan Syar, President of the Syar Foundation, which recently pledged $75,000 to the fundraising effort said, “We hope that other local businesses and philanthropies will join us in supporting this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

Public agencies that have provided funding or committed grant funds to support the Rockville Trails purchase include the California State Coastal Conservancy, the City of Fairfield Community Facilities District, and Solano County Green Valley Open Space Management District. Solano Land Trust Executive Director Byrd feels very hopeful that another $2 million will be approved by the Wildlife Conservation Board in May 2012. “Once the Wildlife Conservation Board approves the funds for this project, we are just $3 million from our goal,” says Ms. Byrd.

Major private grants that have been pledged or received are from The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, Brewster West Foundation, Rose Foundation, Resources Legacy Fund, the Syar Foundation and the A.E. & Martha Michelbacher Fund. Individual community members have also donated generously toward the effort.

To learn more about Rockville Trails or to make a donation to help secure its future as public trails and habitat, see http://www.solanolandtrust.org/SaveRTE.aspx.

“I hope the entire Bay Area will join with us in protecting this extraordinary property by helping us reach our fundraising goal,” added Ms. Byrd. “Time is of the essence as we need to complete the purchase by July 31st.”