Peninsula Open Space Trust (POST) received a $5 million grant from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation to assist in the purchase of the 240-acre Stevens Canyon Ranch in Santa Clara Valley. The total purchase price is $6.6 million. The property is being acquired as part of POST's Saving the Endangered Coast campaign.
The scenic ranch is situated in the Stevens Creek watershed in western Santa Clara Valley in the foothills of the Santa Cruz Mountains, where thousands of acres of natural lands are threatened by high-end residential development. Tucked back into Stevens Canyon, yet readily accessible from the urban mid-Peninsula, this historic ranch lies at the heart of 6,640 acres of public land, connecting Upper and Lower Stevens Creek County Parks and adjacent to Saratoga Gap, Monte Bello and Picchetti Ranch Open Space Preserves, managed by the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District (MROSD).
A family ranch since the late 1800s, the property still retains the atmosphere of an earlier age. Its old stone winery, weathered outbuildings, and acres of orchards are striking reminders of the Santa Clara Valley's agricultural heritage. Because of its strategic location, rich natural resources and history and striking visual beauty, the property is a high priority for preservation. This gift from the Moore Foundation provides an excellent opportunity to enhance this network of scenic preserves and parks.
"We are pleased that the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation was able to play a key role in helping to protect a portion of the Stevens Creek watershed," said Foundation Director of Evaluation and Trustee Ken Moore. "As an organization that supports environmental conservation in the area, we would like to express our thanks to POST for helping to achieve one of Silicon Valley's priority conservation goals."
The Ohlone Indians were the first to take advantage of the property's rich natural resources. The bedrock mortars where they ground acorns are permanent reminders of their presence. Early settlers used the area for hunting, fishing and fur trapping.
The Bordi family homesteaded the land in the late 1800s. Bastido Bordi purchased the property in 1881, clearing and cultivating about 100 acres. He planted an orchard and a vineyard and started a small family winery. The original main house he built still stands atop a stone-walled wine cellar that continued to operate during Prohibition. Some of the old wine casks are still inside. The property also features a caretaker's cabin and a barn.
By 1900, loggers had cleared Stevens Canyon of timber up to Skyline Boulevard. Large old stumps and a shingle splitter's stone oven remain here as evidence of their use. The Jones/Glendenning family acquired the property from the Bordis in the 1950s and continued using it as a family ranch. Their descendents updated the main home, but the surrounding 10 acres of apple and pear orchards still attest to the history of this property and of the Santa Clara Valley.
"The Glendennings were one of the original pioneering families in the valley making their living as fruit ranchers," said Bernice Glendenning Jones. "For over 100 years this ranch has been owned by only two families. We are very pleased that this historical ranch will be preserved for future generations to enjoy."
Protecting Stevens Canyon Ranch is also important from a recreational standpoint. Its strategic location creates a link to the Bay Area Ridge Trail, the Skyline-to-the-Sea Trail, Castle Rock State Park, Sanborn County Park, Long Ridge Open Space Preserve and numerous other preserves along Skyline Boulevard. Ultimately, POST hopes to transfer the 240 acres to a public agency for long-term stewardship.
"We are thrilled that the Moore Foundation is enabling us to acquire the Stevens Canyon Ranch for permanent protection," said POST President Audrey Rust. "Millions of Bay Area residents live within easy reach of this place of natural beauty and refuge, and now they and future generations will be able to enjoy the distinctive character of this historic setting."
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 given permanent protection to nearly 55,000 acres of open space and parkland in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties. Included in that total are 13,646 acres of coastal land POST has protected in the last three years through its $200 million Saving the Endangered Coast campaign.
The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation was established in September 2000, by Intel co-founder Gordon Moore and his wife, Betty. The Foundation funds outcome-based projects that will measurably improve the quality of life by creating positive outcomes for future generations. Grantmaking is concentrated in initiatives that support the Foundation's principal areas of concern: environmental conservation, science, higher education, and the San Francisco Bay Area.