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Preserving our vital open spaces

By Gary Bogue
Friday, February 24th, 2006 at 12:59 pm in Animals, Ecosystem, Open space, Wildlife.

As many times over the years as I’ve tried to help the local land trusts raise funds to buy or manage and preserve new pieces of open space, I’m still always amazed at the immediate positive response I get from people and businesses throughout the local community. In 2002 I tried to raise $61,000 in 8 weeks to pay off the loan the Muir Heritage Land Trust used to purchase the 80-acre Gustin Ranch Open Space near Martinez, CA. Would you believe 1,225 donors sent in $75,838? That magnificent response really says something about how we all feel about preserving the fragile open spaces near our backyards!

So now we’re off and running to help the Land Trust deal with another vital piece of local open space, the 700-acre Fernandez Ranch property. This is an extraordinary stretch of West Contra Costa’s natural landscape, stretching from Alhambra Valley north to Highway 4, off Christie Road. You can see it when you drive from Martinez to Hercules along Highway 4, off to the left behind the Franklin Canyon Golf Course.

At the end of the first week, the Trust has received 33 donations for a total of $5,075! Not a bad start, really. That means just $44,925 to go. My goal is to reach this figure by April 9. Then the Land Trust will schedule a weekend gathering for all the donors on the Fernandez Ranch so we can celebrate and thank everyone for making it happen.

Buying and preserving our last remaining open spaces is the only way we can preserve and protect them from becoming parking lots or new housing developments. In the words of one of this week’s donors, we need to “help balance our existing community with publicly accessible open space."

I’m sure our myriad local wild creatures also appreciate that we’re making sure they will always have a place to live. It’s the neighborly thing to do.

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