The Solano Land Trust today announces it has acquired 905 acres of open land from Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) in Solano County. Escrow closed on January 19, 2005. The land, commonly referred to as the Vallejo Swett Ranch, is located in an unincorporated area between the cities of Fairfield, Vallejo and Benicia. This acquisition is the final part of a three-part transaction between the Solano Land Trust and PG&E. The Land Trust first acquired the 1,575-acre King Ranch, which borders the Suisun Marsh along Interstate 680, in 2002. The second phase, the 1408-acre Eastern Swett Ranch, was purchased by the Land Trust on January 13, 2005.
The Solano Land Trust intends to keep the lands in active cattle grazing, with public access initially limited to docent-led tours. Through a unique on-going partnership with PG&E, enhancement of the habitat for endangered species will also be possible. The Land Trust will begin developing management plans for the area this spring, which will include enhanced public access opportunities.
The Bay Area Ridge Trail Council/State Coastal Conservancy, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, and Vallejo Sanitation and Flood Control District mitigation funds held by Solano Land Trust provided funding for the acquisition of the Vallejo Swett Ranch.
"This ranch offers particularly important habitat for rare and endangered species such as the red-legged frog, with ponds, serpentine outcroppings, grasslands, and creeks. In addition, the ranch features a planned segment of the Bay Area Ridge Trail and incredible vistas, and will provide the opportunity for public access and managed grazing," said Sean Quinn, President of the Solano Land Trust. "We are truly indebted to funders such as the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, as well as to PG&E who shared the vision of preserving this land for future generations. I want to acknowledge the leadership of Senators Machado and Chesbro, and Assembly member Lois Wolk in this endeavor."
"This acquisition is a key step towards implementation of the Cities of Benicia, Fairfield and Vallejo, and the County of Solano's shared vision for the approximately 10,000 acres of undeveloped land known as the Sky Valley-Cordelia Hills Open Space. Located between Interstate Highways 80 and 680 and the cities of Benicia, Fairfield, and Vallejo, this vision recognizes the critical role of this landscape plays in preserving significant habitat, protecting the agricultural resources and heritage of the surrounding communities, and ensuring that open space and recreational amenities are preserved for posterity. The Tri-City Cooperative Planning Group for Open Space and Agriculture has appreciated the opportunity to work with PG&E and the Land Trust to complete this important acquisition," noted Benicia Council Member and JPA Board Member Bill Whitney.
"PG&E is excited to be part of this important effort to preserve and protect such a rich ecological resource," said Bob Harris, PG&E's vice president of environmental affairs. "Our ongoing commitment includes future habitat enhancement and restoration projects to protect the homes of the endangered and threatened species that coexist on these lands."
To develop and implement this vision, the Cities of Benicia, Vallejo, and Fairfield and the County of Solano established in 1992 a Joint Powers Authority, the Tri-City and County Cooperative Planning Group for open space and agricultural preservation. The Cooperative Planning Group has worked closely with PG&E and the Solano Land Trust on issues including environmental and recreational resources, land use, and agricultural preservation. The adopted Master Plan for the area identifies the PG&E properties as a critical element in its preservation program. In addition to these properties, the 1,039-acre Lynch Canyon has been previously protected.
The Solano Land Trust is a private non-profit corporation, founded in 1986. It is governed by a 12-member board of directors and currently owns 8,066 acres and has habitat and agricultural conservation easements over another 5,088 acres in Solano County. This purchase brings the total acreage owned by the Land Trust to 8,971. The Land Trust is dedicated to the preservation of the agricultural and open space resources of Solano County.
The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation was established in September 2000 to create positive outcomes for future generations. The Foundation funds outcome-based grants and initiatives to achieve significant and measurable results. Grantmaking supports the Foundation's principal areas of interest: global environmental conservation, science, and the San Francisco Bay Area.