POST Acquires Mindego Hill Along Skyline Ridge
Land trust launches campaign to save heritage ranchland for future public use; Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation provides $2.3 million grant to protect scenic wildlife habitat
Oct. 11, 2007
Palo Alto, CA — Today the Peninsula Open Space Trust (POST) announced that it has acquired Mindego Hill, a stunning 1,047-acre property near the town of La Honda on the San Francisco Peninsula.
This distinct natural landmark and historic ranch visually dominates the western flank of Skyline Ridge just off Alpine Road. With its top-of-the-world views, rich wildlife habitat and excellent trail connections to adjacent Russian Ridge Open Space Preserve, the land is perfectly situated to become a major addition to the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District (MROSD) and a spectacular public recreation resource for Silicon Valley and beyond.
“The protection of Mindego Hill is a dream come true,” said Audrey Rust, POST president. “Looking west from Russian Ridge, you can see Mindego Hill rising up in front of you, just out of arm’s reach. It’s so enticing, and the hill beckons you to hike and explore it, but as private property, it’s always been off-limits. Now that’s about to change, as POST works to transfer the land as soon as possible to a public agency for trail development and permanent protection.”
Currently a working cattle ranch, Mindego Hill lies close to Silicon Valley near the intersection of Skyline Boulevard and Alpine Road. Breathtaking panoramic vistas unfurl from its 2,143-foot summit, including views of MROSD’s Russian Ridge Open Space Preserve, San Gregorio Creek Valley, Pomponio Creek Valley and, on the far western horizon, the Pacific Ocean.
Owned for more than half a century by the same family, Mindego Hill has long attracted attention from developers seeking to capitalize on the property’s world-class views and proximity to Silicon Valley. There are 27 density credits on the land, which could have been subdivided or, as Rust explains, “the more likely outcome would be a single buyer building a luxury estate and permanently closing off access to the land.”
With this acquisition, POST is launching a “GoMindego” campaign to raise $29.4 million to ensure permanent protection of this classic California landscape. POST expects to raise $6.9 million from individuals, foundations and other private sources as well as $22.5 million in public funding. The money raised will be used to help cover the costs of property acquisition and management until the land can be transferred to public ownership. Once that happens, visitors will be able to savor breathtaking views and explore numerous hiking trails connecting to a strategic swath of nearly 33,000 acres of surrounding protected open space.
The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation has already provided a generous $2.3 million grant to POST for the protection of Mindego Hill. POST has set up a special Web site, www.gomindego.org, where visitors can learn more about the property and the campaign to save it.
“The Moore Foundation has identified the protection of Mindego Hill as a vitally important land conservation project, which is why we have stepped forward with funding,” said Helen Kim, the
Moore Foundation’s chief program officer for the San Francisco Bay Area. “The natural resources and recreational potential of Mindego Hill are simply extraordinary.”
Mindego Hill is named after Juan Mendico, a Basque farmer who established a homestead and cattle ranch there in 1859. Nearly a century later, in 1954, the late Admiral Arnold True, a distinguished World War II veteran, and his wife, Corinne, purchased Mindego Hill. The family has continued the tradition of ranching on the land, raising white, hump-backed Brahman cattle as well as Angus cattle and a cross of the two breeds for rodeo bull-riding. When Corinne True died in 2006, the family decided to honor her wishes to save Mindego Hill as open space and this year finalized an agreement with POST to permanently protect the land.
Mindego’s steep grassy slopes, windswept ridges and forested canyons provide critical habitat for a diverse population of wild animals, including mountain lions, coyotes, bobcats, meadow mice, pocket gophers, badgers and dusky-footed woodrats. Raptors such as red-tailed hawks, sharp-shinned hawks, golden eagles, Cooper’s hawks, white-tailed kite and peregrine falcon coast overhead, while spotted towhee and California quail skitter through the brush. Other fascinating creatures—including western rattlesnakes, blue-bellied lizards and rare and endangered San Francisco garter snakes and California red-legged frogs—also benefit from habitat on the land.
POST’s acquisition of Mindego Hill will protect four miles of tributaries to San Gregorio Creek, which provides habitat for threatened steelhead trout and Coho salmon. The land is the primary watershed for two waterways, Mindego Creek and Alpine Creek. Two spring-fed lakes, Mindego Lake and Knuedler Lake, provide not only suitable habitat for riparian wildlife but also drinking water for the cattle that graze the land.
“Mindego Hill has been on POST’s top-five list of priority projects for more than 27 years, so we were thrilled to work with the True family to save this land,” said Rust. “The protection of Mindego Hill is the capstone of achievement of POST’s 30th anniversary as a land trust, which we are celebrating this year. We’re simply overjoyed that this magnificent part of the Peninsula will be preserved for generations of visitors to experience, explore and enjoy at last.”
About Peninsula Open Space Trust (POST)
POST is a leading private, nonprofit land trust dedicated to preserving the beauty, character and diversity of the San Francisco Peninsula landscape. Since its founding in 1977, the organization has been responsible for saving 60,000 acres as permanent open space and parkland in San Mateo, Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties.
Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation
The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, established in 2000, seeks to advance environmental conservation and cutting-edge, scientific research around the world and improve the quality of life in the San Francisco Bay Area.###