Peninsula Open Space Trust, Long-time Steward of Cloverdale Ranch, Completes Transfer of 5,100 Acres to Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District

First two of three transfers caps 26 years of protection and restoration at Cloverdale to benefit nature, local economy and people

Overhead view of Cloverdale. Green rolling hills with a lake on the left side of the frame.
Cloverdale Ranch is unique on the Coastside for its abundant water, including reservoirs (shown), several creeks and stock ponds, supporting both local agriculture and rare wildlife species. Photo: Teddy Miller for POST

PALO ALTO, Calif. (June 20, 2023) Peninsula Open Space Trust (POST) has completed the transfer of 5,100 out of 6,300 acres of Cloverdale Ranch near Pescadero in San Mateo County to Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District (Midpen). POST also granted Midpen an option to purchase the additional 1,200 acres from POST by 2025.

This transfer largely completes an effort POST began 26 years ago to protect and preserve nearly 10 square miles of rare California coastal ecosystems that are vital to regional biodiversity, environmental health and the local economy. Midpen now assumes management of the entire 6,300 acres, which will become its 27th public open space preserve. Additional information on Midpen’s plans and process is available here.

Cloverdale Ranch rises from the San Mateo County coast through rolling grasslands to the forested slopes of the Santa Cruz Mountains and connects with more than 31,000 acres of surrounding park and open space land, providing critical wildlife corridors for a wide number of land and aquatic species.

Cloverdale is a significant land project for POST, one of the largest in terms of both size and environmental impact in the nonprofit’s 46-year history.

“POST’s protection, restoration and stewardship of Cloverdale represents a combined public-private investment of more than $60 million over the past 25 years,” said Walter T. Moore, president of POST. “Back in 1997, the threat of subdivision and commercial development of Cloverdale was very real. POST took the long-term view that the residents and lands of San Mateo County would be better served by the many environmental and economic benefits of rich ecosystems, ecologically responsible public access and working lands.”

Since 1997, POST has protected more than 8,200 acres at Cloverdale through multiple land purchases. In the years prior to the Midpen transfer, POST transferred to California State Parks approximately 930 acres that were incorporated into Pigeon Point Lighthouse Station State Historic Park and Butano and Año Nuevo State Parks. Approximately 550 acres have already been transferred to local farmers, subject to conservation easements, as part of POST’s farmland protection program. POST will continue to own and manage an additional 400 acres of row-crop farmland and coastal bluffs.

Row crops at Fifth Crow Farm at Cloverdale Ranch, protected by POST for eventual transfer to a local farmer. Photo: courtesy Midpen.
Row crops at Fifth Crow Farm at Cloverdale Ranch, protected by POST for eventual transfer to a local farmer. Photo: courtesy Midpen.
Conservation grazing will continue on Cloverdale Ranch rangeland. Photo: Teddy Miller for POST.
Conservation grazing will continue on Cloverdale Ranch rangeland. Photo: Teddy Miller for POST.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Transfer

Midpen’s purchase of the entire 6,300 acres from POST was significantly discounted to $15.37 million and was supported by $9.9 million in grant funding from the California State General Fund budget, the Proposition 68 Recreational Infrastructure Revenue Enhancement program and Measure AA bond funding. The transfer includes the existing Wilbur’s Watch Trail, which remains open to the public.

The Environmental Riches of Cloverdale Ranch

The Cloverdale Ranch transfer to Midpen includes multiple ecosystems, fish spawning habitat and rare intact coastal terrace prairie.

Cloverdale Ranch contains seven sensitive natural communities and provides habitat to more than 600 plant species, including five special-status species: Scouler’s catchfly, the endangered Point Reyes meadowfoam, Choris’s popcorn flower, harlequin lotus and johnny-nip. The property is home to numerous special-status creatures, such as San Francisco garter snake, California red-legged frog, western pond turtle, American badger, and California coast steelhead. Other species found on the property include mountain lion, bobcats, coyotes, deer, monarch butterflies and other insects, numerous migratory bird species and several bat species.

3 Photos from left to right. SF garter snake coiled and facing camera. Small yellow bird, Wilson's Warbler, perched on a branch in a bush. Green rolling hills covered in native grasslands
San Francisco garter snake, Wilson’s Warbler, and coastal prairie grasses are examples of the extraordinary native biodiversity thriving at Cloverdale Ranch. Photos (L to R): Matt Dolkas for POST; Peter E. Hart for POST; Courtesy Midpen

Cloverdale is a property with uniquely abundant water sources, both natural and constructed. Its 15 miles of streams and three critical watersheds support habitat for many rare, threatened and endangered species, while its network of springs, wells, ponds and surface-water diversions support agricultural uses and habitat connectivity across the property.

Some key water features of Cloverdale include:

  • Butano Creek – on the eastern boundary of Cloverdale, provides water for farmers and vital habitat for steelhead and coho salmon.
  • Gazos Creek – on the southern boundary of the property runs through steep redwood canyons and provides spawning grounds for steelhead and coho salmon.
  • Arroyo de los Frijoles or “Bean Hollow” Watershed – core habitat for special status amphibian and reptile species. This watershed contains three reservoirs that support farms and provide rare wetland habitats.

Cloverdale is located along the Pacific flyway for migrating birds, while also supporting nesting local bird species such as the Savannah and grasshopper sparrows. On the ground, Cloverdale provides critical wildlife passage between coastal grassland and forest habitats for myriad species, such as mountain lion, American badger, burrowing owl and others. 

History of Cloverdale Ranch

Cloverdale Ranch is located within the territory of the Quiroste Tribe, one of some 50 independent tribal groups that are often referred to as the Ohlone. The Quiroste cultivated and stewarded the abundant resources of Pescadero Marsh and occupied multiple village sites at the time of European contact in the 1770s. The Quiroste and other Ohlone tribes managed the lands for many purposes, including growing food and regularly burning the grasslands. The presence of Native people continued in this region through the Mexican and early-American periods and into the present day.

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About Peninsula Open Space Trust

POST protects open space on the Peninsula and in the South Bay for the benefit of all. As a private nonprofit land trust, POST has been responsible for conserving more than 86,000 acres since its founding in 1977. POST works with private landowners and public agencies to connect people and nature. Visit openspacetrust.org for more information.

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About Post

Peninsula Open Space Trust (POST) protects open space on the Peninsula and in the South Bay for the benefit of all. Since its founding in 1977, POST has been responsible for saving more than 87,000 acres as permanently protected land in San Mateo, Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties. Learn more

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