The acquisition is being completed in partnership with the East Contra Costa County Habitat Conservancy, which designated the property a high priority for acquisition and protection due to its significant habitat for protected species. The property also offers outstanding public access opportunities, enabling the development of trails connecting Black Diamond Mines to the district’s Clayton Ranch property.
The EBRPD is purchasing the property from the heirs of Maxine Barron, a longtime owner of the property, for just under $3 million. The funding for the purchase comes from a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services grant, the Wildlife Conservation Board and Measure WW, the land-acquisition bond issue passed by voters in 2008.
The property features moderate to steep sloping hills crossed by two canyons – Oil Canyon in the north and Irish Canyon in the southwest. On either side of Oil Canyon, steep hillsides rise to elevations reaching 1,668 feet. A creek runs through Oil Canyon, fed by smaller tributaries. The diverse habitats include oak woodlands, chaparral and grasslands. Assistant General Manager for Land Acquisition Nancy Wenninger describes the land as “one of the most beautiful properties I have been privileged to purchase for the District.”
According to board member Ted Radke, “It’s a major link from Black Diamond to Clayton Ranch. We've been trying to create this wildlife corridor for a long time. In addition to being a wonderful acquisition, it's also one of the most scenic spots, with spectacular views. We’re very pleased with the partnership with the Conservancy.”
The acquisition will expand Black Diamond Mines’ area to 6,173 acres, making it the third largest park in the system. The property will be kept in land bank status pending completion of a land use plan amendment.