SACRAMENTO – Senators Bob Wieckowski, D-Fremont, Steve Glazer, D-Orinda, and 15 other Bay Area legislators on Wednesday urged Gov. Gavin Newsom and legislative leaders to provide funding to help acquire the N3 Ranch in Alameda, Santa Clara, San Joaquin and Stanislaus counties and preserve it as public parkland.
“This once-in-a-generation opportunity would help create one of the largest parks in California, protect a crucial watershed, fight climate change and provide accessible backcountry wilderness to millions of Californians,” Senator Wieckowski said.
“This is a matter of urgent concern because this irreplaceable property is for sale now,” Senator Glazer said. “Non-profit conservation groups have assembled funding commitments that could finance more than half the cost. We need to move on this quickly.”
A $20 million appropriation from the state, if approved quickly, would complete the funding package and create one of the largest public parks in the state.
“Fortunately, The Nature Conservancy and The Trust for Public Lands – the nation’s two largest conservation organizations – have secured commitments to cover $30 million of the purchase price. Now is the time for the state to step up and make this happen,” the letter said.
Assemblymember Rebecca Bauer-Kahan, D-Orinda, added: “The N3 Ranch property is a critical asset in the efforts to protect our open spaces and fight climate change – Californians deserve this opportunity to be provided clean air, clean water and access to parklands. I am proud to be working with my colleagues to preserve this natural treasure.”
The Bay Area Caucus members asked the governor and legislative leaders to dedicate the necessary money from the one-time surplus in this year’s state budget or include it in one of the resource bond bills currently moving through the Legislature.
At nearly 80 square miles, the N3 Ranch would rank among the five largest California State Parks and would establish a backcountry wilderness open to the public in a region of more than 7 million people, within an hour’s drive of San Francisco, Oakland, San Jose, Stockton and Modesto. With more than 200 miles of established routes, visitors could enjoy a casual picnic stroll or begin a week-long backpacking trip from a bus stop in Fremont. The 14 historic cabins could support a unique hut-to-hut experience similar to Yosemite’s or those found in Europe but in the heart of the Bay Area.
Eighty percent of the property, including 9,600 acres of the Alameda Creek watershed, captures drinking water for Bay Area residents and millions of Californians. With over 2 million tons of carbon sequestered, its varied habitats serve a critical niche for many protected species.
The N3 Ranch was listed for sale in July 2019 for the first time in 85 years and has attracted purchase offers and interest from around the country and world. Immediate action will be necessary to secure the property as a public park for the people of California.
Signers to the letter: Senators Bob Wieckowski, Steve Glazer, Ana Caballero, Jerry Hill, Scott Wiener, Nancy Skinner, Cathleen Galgiani, Jim Beall, Bill Monning; Assemblymembers Rebecca Bauer-Kahan, Rob Bonta, Bill Quirk, Buffy Wicks, Tim Grayson, David Chiu, Marc Levine, Marc Berman.
Assemblymember Buffy Wicks, D-Berkeley, said: “Preserving this land will protect what we know Californians care about: wildlife populations, the water we drink, and beautiful outdoor spaces where we can spend time with our families. At the same time, it will bolster California’s commitment to fighting climate change. Protecting public lands is a critical part of our state’s leadership on the climate crisis, and we must in turn treat this opportunity with the appropriate level of urgency.”
Senator Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties, added: “California now has a unique opportunity to help protect and preserve acres of ranchland and wilderness as a public park. This effort offers tremendous benefits for Californians now and in the future, for our environment and for the wildlife that make this beautiful area their home.”
Assemblymember Rob Bonta (D-Oakland): “I’m proud to support this effort to protect and preserve the N3 Ranch. This land comprises nearly 80 square miles and would provide exceptional new access to the great outdoors for millions of Californians in the Bay Area and Central Valley while also protecting vital watersheds and fighting climate change.