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Saturday, July 24, 2021

Save Mount Diablo Completes $15 Million Campaign to Preserve Open Space ‘Forever’

Save Mount Diablo has completed the largest fundraising campaign in the organization’s 50-year history, reaching a $15 million goal to preserve more than two square miles of total land on the mountain.

Hitting its fundraising goal, the group will protect 1,681 acres in nine properties surrounding the mountain’s northern peak, which has an elevation of about 3,500 feet. The campaign will ensure that the land is never developed or populated by buildings, although visitors will be allowed on some acquired land through the education initiative Discover Diablo, the organization’s executive director said.

Discover Diablo is a community hiking program.

The fundraising campaign, named “Forever Wild,” began in 2013 on top of Save Mount Diablo’s existing fundraising efforts. From the start, the mission was an intense version of the group’s founding ethos in 1971 – protecting the beautiful mountain from developers.

“Our founders understood that the Bay Area would only continue to grow more and more, with pressure for development on our important open space land,” the group’s executive director, Ted Clement, said in an interview. “The Forever Wild Capital campaign that we just completed was thankfully our biggest success.”

Clement said about two-thirds of the revenue will go toward land purchases and other conservation efforts. The second part will go toward any legal defenses that may be needed to save Mount Diablo in the future, as well as a “proceeding endowment fund,” which Clement said will go toward future habitat restoration work, forest fires. will pay for risk reduction and other measures of healthy.

Diagram of protected land as part of Save Mount Diablo’s “Forever Wild” campaign. (Courtesy of Save Mount Diablo)

The organization has yet to tap any money into the stewardship endowment fund, which is part of a conservative approach to the fund to earn meaningful interest, he said. When the fund reaches about $3 million, the group will begin paying for restoration projects.

Save Mount Diablo acquired most of the protected land as part of the Forever Wild campaign. But the most recent property involved will remain owned by the Concorde Mount Diablo Trail Ride Association, an equestrian group based in Clayton.

The association’s land is spread over 154 acres of sloping, rugged terrain in a high-country area of ​​the mountain, and will save nearly $1 million of its fundraising revenue to Save Mount Diablo.

Instead of negotiating a land transfer, in late 2019 the two groups signed a Conservation Ease, a state-protected legal agreement that ensures that neither industrial nor residential uses ever claim their rights to the property. can find a way.

The conservation easement was prompted when Save Mount Diablo saw the Trail Ride Association build about 15 homes on another nearby parcel—an example, Clement said, of how residential development could make its way to even the most rural locations. is.

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