The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors today approved the allocation of $2 million in Open Space District funds toward the purchase by the nonprofit Sonoma Land Trust of the 1657 acre Roche Ranch which is adjacent to the recently established Tolay Lake Regional Park. The Roche Ranch includes two and a half miles of Tolay Creek which flows into San Pablo Bay just north of the Infineon Raceway.
The total cost of the ranch is $13 million. Sonoma Land Trust will combine the Open Space District funds with contributions from the California Coastal Conservancy, the California Wildlife Conservation Board, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and a number of individual donors to make up the purchase price. The largest contribution toward Roche’s $13 million purchase is $5 million from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, a San Francisco organization that funds projects benefiting the environment, science and the Bay Area.
Wendy Eliot, Sonoma Land Trust’s Conservation Director says, “Thanks to our Open Space District and the passage of Measure F, we are perfectly positioned to attract public agency funding. One of the things the Land Trust can do is leverage local funds from the District by pulling in contributions from public agencies and private donors.”
The acquisition will add to Sonoma Land Trust’s extensive holding in the Baylands Region. The ranch’s acquisition will bring the connected open space along San Pablo Bay to more than 20,000 acres. Other protected properties include the Land Trust’s Sears Point restoration project, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s San Pablo Bay National Wildlife Refuge and Department of Fish and Game’s Napa-Sonoma Marshes.
Valerie Brown First District Supervisor, said, "We are pleased to be able to assist in the protection of this significant property that, with the Tolay property, encompasses over 50% of the of the Tolay Creek watershed. We are grateful to one of our frequent partners, the Sonoma Land Trust, for bringing all the funding partners together to make this acquisition possible."
Roche Ranch is the link connecting Tolay Lake Regional Park to protected open space at the Land Trust’s Sears Point property and offers the opportunity for a trail from the toe of Sonoma Mountain to the Bay. The Trust will assume ownership of the property but will work with Sonoma County’s Regional Parks Department to add the property to Tolay Lake Regional Park, doubling the size of the Park.
Sonoma Land Trust is a private non-profit organization funded largely by membership contributions. Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District is a public agency funded by a voter-approved sales tax and directed by the Board of Supervisors.