120 acres purchased for open space

The purchase of 120 acres of undeveloped property in southern Santa Clara County will vastly expand an open space preserve near Canada Road, authorities said.

The board of directors of the Santa Clara County Open Space Authority approved the purchase of the property from Santa Barbara Bank and Trust Oct. 11, according to a press release from the OSA. The property is adjacent to the authority’s 702-acre undisturbed property purchased in 2007, and will expand the total preserve area to 822 acres.

The purchase of the property eliminates the potential development of three highly visible hilltop estate homes along Canada Road, according to Patty Eaton of the OSA. Instead, the authority will expand its future open space preserve for watershed, wildlife habitat and public recreation and environmental education. The property will also allow the authority to establish a public staging area and trail system that will provide views of the Diablo Range.

The 120-acre property lies within the Upper Pajaro River watershed and includes a tributary of San Ysidro Creek, the press release added. The property provides habitat for the California Tiger Salamander and California Red Legged-frog, two federally endangered species, and is part of a wildlife linkage connecting the Santa Cruz Mountains and the Diablo Range.

In 2007, when the Authority purchased the 574-acre property formerly known as the Doan Ranch, it also sought to protect the adjoining three parcels from development, but the $3 million price tag was prohibitive, the press release said. In May 2012, Santa Barbara Bank and Trust acquired the property through a foreclosure and the authority was able to negotiate the purchase of the three parcels for $810,000.

“Our timing was just right to be able to purchase these properties for open space,” said Andrea Mackenzie, General Manager of the Open Space Authority. “Protection of these properties will benefit the water quality, wildlife habitat and recreational values of the upper Pajaro River watershed.”

The Authority plans to partner with the Natural Resource Conservation Service to prepare resource management plans and implement water quality improvements on the property prior to opening the preserve for public use.

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