Peninsula Open Space Trust Transfers 1,908 Acres of Protected Lakeside Ranch to Santa Clara Valley Habitat Agency

Transfer provides the Valley Habitat Agency long-term stewardship of wildlife passage, endangered species conservation and protected watershed

Lakeside Ranch, looking east to the Diablo Mountain Range
Lakeside Ranch, looking east to the Diablo Mountain Range. Photo: Noelle Chambers for Peninsula Open Space Trust.

MORGAN HILL, Calif. (May 14, 2024) Peninsula Open Space Trust (POST) has completed the transfer of 1,908 acres of Lakeside Ranch to the Santa Clara Valley Habitat Agency (Habitat Agency). With this transaction, the Habitat Agency gains stewardship of one of the largest remaining intact ranches in the South Bay, which POST acquired in March 2023. Lakeside Ranch is proximate to protected lands on three sides and contains critical watershed, wildlife passage and sensitive habitat for native protected and endangered species.

Lakeside Ranch is located north of Chesbro Reservoir and shares a two-and-a-half-mile border with nearly 2,500 acres of the Tilton Ranch properties protected in 2020 and 2021 by POST, the Moore Foundation, the Habitat Agency, Santa Clara County Parks, and Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority (the Authority). Its eastern boundary borders the 17,000-acre Coyote Valley Conservation Program Area, where the Authority is leading a public Coyote Valley Conservation Areas Master Plan process. Going forward, the Habitat Agency will manage Lakeside Ranch primarily as open space in support of enhancing local climate resilience and protection of native biological diversity. Limited public access will be considered in the future.

“Taking on the long-term stewardship of Lakeside Ranch, along with the Tilton Ranch Complex, is a win- win for the Valley Habitat Agency and all who reside in this area” said Executive Officer Edmund Sullivan. “Our biological studies have confirmed the remarkable array of biodiversity and especially sensitive habitat that exists, relatively undisturbed, across Lakeside Ranch. Landscapes like these protect the air and water we all breathe. Rich in biodiversity, they are insurance that all can thrive here well into the future – humans and wildlife alike.

Map of Lakeside Ranch
Lakeside Ranch: Click to Zoom.

From the 1950s until POST’s acquisition last year, Lakeside Ranch was partially operated as a cattle ranch and was once home to a private equestrian stable. The ranch sits on ancestral lands of numerous Indigenous peoples, who stewarded the land for millennia and whose descendants, members of the Muwekma Ohlone Tribe and the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band, still reside in the region.

The Conservation Vision

Situated in the eastern foothills of the Santa Cruz Mountains, the expansive property has for decades been a top conservation priority, cited in numerous regional plans and studies. It provides connectivity for wildlife moving between the Santa Cruz Mountains in the west, the Diablo range in the east and the Gabilan range to the south. Focusing on biodiversity conservation on this landscape will ensure continued wildlife passage between habitats, including a thriving mountain lion population and other larger mammals, essential to maintaining biodiversity across the entire region. It will ensure the purity of the watershed of Llagas Creek which runs through Lakeside Ranch, flowing south to the Chesbro Reservoir and beyond to the Pajaro River and Monterey Bay and serves many communities in the area.

Lakeside Ranch supports a large variety of natural land cover types, dominated by oak woodland habitat. It includes habitat for numerous animal species and many California endemic plant species targeted for conservation by the Santa Clara Valley Habitat Agency. These include the western pond turtle, foothill yellow-legged frog, Bay checkerspot butterfly, western monarch, Santa Clara Valley dudleya, Hall’s bush mallow, most beautiful jewelflower and smooth lessingia.

Lakeside Ranch from an aerial view
Photo: Teddy Miller for Peninsula Open Space Trust

The Transaction

The Valley Habitat Agency purchased 1,908 acres from POST below market value for $13.86 million, with funding from the California Wildlife Conservation Board and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. POST is retaining ownership of 50 acres of the property that includes residences and infrastructure that is not needed for ranch operation.

“Lakeside Ranch represents an important piece of the complex conservation puzzle of Coyote Valley and its surrounding hillsides. As a connected whole, this landscape provides critical habitat and wildlife passages that are key to maintaining our region’s biodiversity and protects this rare landscape from harmful development. We are pleased that the Valley Habitat Agency will protect this extraordinary place in perpetuity,” said Walter T. Moore, president of POST. “With the help of our generous donors and funders, POST is able to act quickly when conservation opportunities like Lakeside Ranch arise, making it possible for POST to pass this amazing property to the public at a significantly discounted cost for the long-term benefit of people and nature.”

POST’s original purchase of the 1,958-acre property for $22.36 million was supported by a significant program-related investment from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

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About the 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 saving more than 87,000 acres since its founding in 1977. POST works with private landowners and public agencies to create a network of protected lands so that present and future generations may benefit from the careful balance of rural and urban landscapes that makes our region extraordinary. Visit openspacetrust.org for more information.

About Santa Clara Valley Habitat Agency

The Santa Clara Valley Habitat Agency is responsible for implementing the Santa Clara Valley Habitat Conservation Plan and Natural Community Conservation Plan (Habitat Plan), which was approved in 2013. The 50-year Habitat Plan balances economic growth with nature-based conservation focused on protecting, adaptively managing, and restoring habitat for threatened and endangered species. The Reserve System the Habitat Agency is charged with creating will ultimately protect an estimated 46,920 acres for the benefit of at-risk species, natural communities, biological diversity, and ecosystem function. With the Lakeside Ranch acquisition, the Habitat Agency will have protected over 15,000 acres, well on the way to achieving our 50-year goal. Visit scv-habitatagency.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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