MOUNT DIABLO — On Thursday, July 8, Save Mount Diablo completed its $15 million Forever Wild Capital Campaign—the largest and most consequential fundraising effort in the organization’s 50-year history.
Through Forever Wild, the organization raised the necessary funds to protect 1,681 acres of land in nine different properties. The total land conserved amounts to 2.6 square miles, an area bigger than Emeryville or the San Francisco Presidio.
The strategically chosen land is rich in conservation value. For example, federally endangered wildlife like the California red-legged frog lives on several of the properties.
The most recent property that funds were raised to protect is a 154-acre area owned by Concord Mt. Diablo Trail Ride Association (CMDTRA). The property is both a mile wide east to west and part of the “Missing Mile,” a square mile of private land on North Peak’s face. It is surrounded by Mount Diablo State Park on three sides and rises from 1,100 feet to 2,010 feet with views from the Carquinez Strait and Suisun Bay to Lassen Peak and the Sierra Nevada Range.
On Dec. 31, 2019, Save Mount Diablo and the CMDTRA signed a two-year option agreement to permanently protect the property. After raising $1.04 million as a part of the final push to close Forever Wild, Save Mount Diablo will be able to acquire a perpetual conservation easement with the CMDTRA later this year.
Once protected, the 154-acre property will help secure the extremely important Mount Diablo high peaks area local ecosystem and preserve the scenic value of North Peak.
“Despite various challenges, like an over year-long national crisis and pandemic period, we stayed strong and focused on our Forever Wild Campaign and we cannot thank our great Campaign donors enough for helping us successfully conclude this effort that will pay lasting green dividends to our communities and local flora and fauna,” remarked Save Mount Diablo Executive Director Ted Clement.
“When supporters see us responsibly managing our funds, when they receive sincere gratitude from us, when they see us involved in important advocacy battles, when they are inspired by our great team, when they see we are capable and skilled fundraisers, when they see great leadership, when they see us successfully complete land acquisition projects, when they see great educational efforts that are building the bench for land conservation, when they see us carefully stewarding our lands, and when they see great and smart communications from us, they want to give and support us—and they are in huge and historic ways!”
Save Mount Diablo launched Forever Wild in 2013 with a campaign target of $15 million. By the end of 2015, it had acquired the extraordinary 1,080-acre Curry Canyon Ranch—one of the most important and spectacular private properties remaining in Contra Costa County.
Since Curry Canyon Ranch, Save Mount Diablo has acquired Smith Canyon (28 acres), Highland Springs (105 acres), Big Bend (51 acres), Hanson Hills (76 acres), and Anderson Ranch (95 acres); it has also raised the funds to soon acquire North Peak Ranch (87 acres). Additionally, it has protected the Rideau property (5 acres) with a conservation easement and now has the funds to permanently protect the Concord Mt. Diablo Trail Ride Association property (154 acres) with a conservation easement.
Although most of Forever Wild’s raised funds were for land acquisition, the campaign also raised substantial funds so that Save Mount Diablo was able to develop a robust Stewardship Endowment Fund and Legal Defense Fund to help sustain the organization’s conservation work long-term. The Stewardship Endowment Fund will generate interest that can support native habitat restoration, fire abatement activities, invasive species removal, and other stewardship activities that keep land healthy and safe.
The Legal Defense Fund ensures Save Mount Diablo has the financial resources, when necessary, to legally defend its conservation easements and lands purchased. Together, these funds will help sustain Save Mount Diablo’s land conservation work for years to come.
Clement continued, “Through Forever Wild we also developed our fundraising capabilities to better support our time-sensitive land conservation mission into the future. We truly have much to celebrate and be grateful for.”