Land Trust of Napa County is pleased to announce the acquisition of over 500 acres of undeveloped land that will add to an existing Land Trust Preserve. The property will be added to the Land Trust’s Chiles Valley Preserve, now over 1,660 acres.

“This property has significant natural values and is in a strategic location that will enhance and connect other protected lands,” said Doug Parker, CEO of the Land Trust.

Besides abutting a Land Trust preserve, the 512-acre property is adjacent to the 6,400-acre Cedar Roughs Wilderness Area. This area’s importance for conservation has been documented twice in recent years – in 2006 when the Cedar Roughs Wilderness Area was first created (one of only two wilderness areas in the Bay Area) and then a few years later, when lands around Lake Berryessa, including the Wilderness Area, were designated part of the Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument. Both the Wilderness Area and the National Monument were created through the leadership of Mike Thompson.

“Throughout my time serving our region, I have long fought to protect our public lands and secure the designation of the Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument and the Cedar Roughs Wilderness Area,” said Mike Thompson. “I am pleased to see that the Land Trust of Napa County is enhancing these areas by adding protected land in the region. Public-private partnerships are vital to protect these beautiful public lands for generations to come.”

“Protecting this property is a key step in connecting together all the protected land on the west side of Lake Berryessa,” said Parker. “One of the key conservation priorities in the region is to connect together existing protected lands to ensure wildlife corridors over the long term. Besides abutting the Wilderness Area and a Land Trust preserve, this property connects them to an additional 850 acres of BLM to the southeast.” Parker added, “The Land Trust has already connected all protected land on the east side of the lake.  Through seven conservation easements over the last few years, over 14,000 contiguous acres were protected, adjacent to federal land that is part of the National Monument.  These projects ensure that wildlife can move freely across these large open spaces into the future.”

The landowner, who owned the property for 20 years, sold it to the Land Trust at a significantly discounted price, donating over 40% of the appraised value.  The Land Trust purchased the property for $1M; the appraised value was $1.7M.  The difference qualifies as a charitable donation from the landowner, a “bargain sale.”

“I want to thank the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation for helping with this purchase,” said Parker. “It would not have been possible without their support.”

“The Land Trust of Napa County did incredible work in protecting this strategic property in a timely way and at a great price,” said Dan Winterson, who manages the Conservation Portfolio at the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation. “This represents a significant addition to one of the most important wildlife corridors in the state.”

The property is chiefly serpentine chaparral along with serpentine hardwood, interior live oak and some sargent cypress, the signature species on the abutting Wilderness Area.  A large percentage of the property has serpentine soils.  These soils support, by far, the largest number of rare plant species of any soil type statewide. A botanical survey has not been completed, but at the adjacent Chiles Valley Preserve, a survey found a number of special status species, including several that exist only in Napa and nearby counties, such as Green Coyote Mint (Monardella viridis) and Napa Lomatium (Lomatium repostum).

Land Trust of Napa County’s newest preserve is home to Green Coyote Mint (Monardella viridis), a wildflower species whose entire range is centered on Napa County. Photo by Land Trust of Napa County.

Napa Register coverage here