The Peninsula Open Space Trust announced on April 5, 2023, that it had purchased the nearly 2,000-acre Lakeside Ranch for $22.36 million. Adjacent to the shore of Chesbro Reservoir and extending northwest through Coyote Valley, Lakeside Ranch is one of the largest remaining intact ranches in the South Bay, according to POST. File photo

The Peninsula Open Space Trust recently completed the transfer of 1,908 acres of Lakeside Ranch in Morgan Hill to the Santa Clara Valley Habitat Agency. 

With the transaction, the Habitat Agency gains stewardship of one of the largest remaining intact ranches in the South Bay, which POST acquired in March 2023, according to POST. Lakeside Ranch is close to protected lands on three sides and contains important watershed, wildlife passage and sensitive habitat for native protected and endangered species.

Lakeside Ranch is located north of Chesbro Reservoir and shares a 2.4-mile border with nearly 2,500 acres of the Tilton Ranch properties, which became protected in 2020 and 2021 by POST, the Moore Foundation, the Habitat Agency, Santa Clara County Parks, and Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority.

The ranch’s eastern boundary borders the 17,000-acre Coyote Valley Conservation Program Area, where the OSA is leading a public Coyote Valley Conservation Areas Master Plan process, POST and the Habitat Agency said in a recent announcement. The Habitat Agency will manage Lakeside Ranch primarily as open space that enhances local climate resilience and protects native biological diversity. Limited public access will be considered in the future.

“Taking on the long-term stewardship of Lakeside Ranch, along with the Tilton Ranch Complex, is a win-win for the Valley Habitat Agency and all who reside in this area,” said Habitat Agency Executive Officer Edmund Sullivan. “Our biological studies have confirmed the remarkable array of biodiversity and especially sensitive habitat that exists, relatively undisturbed, across Lakeside Ranch. 

“Landscapes like these protect the air and water we all breathe. Rich in biodiversity, they are insurance that all can thrive here well into the future—humans and wildlife alike.”

From the 1950s until POST’s acquisition last year, Lakeside Ranch was partially operated as a cattle ranch and was once home to a private equestrian stable, according to POST and the Habitat Agency. The ranch sits on ancestral lands of numerous Indigenous peoples, who stewarded the land for millennia and whose descendants, members of the Muwekma Ohlone Tribe and the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band, still reside in the region.

Situated in the eastern foothills of the Santa Cruz Mountains, the expansive property has for decades been a top conservation priority, cited in numerous regional plans and studies, POST said. It provides connectivity for wildlife moving between the Santa Cruz Mountains in the west, the Diablo range in the east and the Gabilan range to the south. 

Lakeside Ranch supports a variety of natural land cover types, dominated by oak woodland habitat. It includes habitat for numerous animal species and many California endemic plant species targeted for conservation by the Santa Clara Valley Habitat Agency. These include the western pond turtle, foothill yellow-legged frog, Bay checkerspot butterfly, western monarch, Santa Clara Valley dudleya, Hall’s bush mallow, most beautiful jewelflower and smooth lessingia.

The Valley Habitat Agency purchased 1,908 acres from POST below market value for $13.86 million, with funding from the California Wildlife Conservation Board and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, says the announcement. POST is retaining ownership of 50 acres of the property that includes residences and infrastructure that is not needed for ranch operation.

“Lakeside Ranch represents an important piece of the complex conservation puzzle of Coyote Valley and its surrounding hillsides,” said POST President Walter T. Moore. “As a connected whole, this landscape provides critical habitat and wildlife passages that are key to maintaining our region’s biodiversity and protects this rare landscape from harmful development.”

POST’s original purchase of the 1,958-acre property for $22.36 million was supported by a program-related investment from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

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Michael Moore is an award-winning journalist who has worked as a reporter and editor for the Morgan Hill Times, Hollister Free Lance and Gilroy Dispatch since 2008. During that time, he has covered crime, breaking news, local government, education, entertainment and more.


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