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H O R I ZO N S P rotec ting the pla ces that m ake t h e East B ay sp e c i a l


Fernandez Ranch

ALL THAT RAIN! If you enjoy the striking seasonal contrasts of our East Bay landscapes, this is a great time to lace up your hiking boots. The unprecedented winter rains have mixed a palette of greens that will challenge even the most prolific local artist. Wildlife enthusiasts are thrilled. Sparkling reservoirs accent rolling hills studded with stately oaks. While we celebrate these upsides, a few downsides need attention as well. HEALTHY HABITAT “The record-setting winter precipitation has set the stage for verdant hillsides, and breathes new life into trees and shrubs affected by drought,” says Jake Schweitzer, Senior Ecologist at Vollmar Natural Lands Consulting. “An abundant supply of food, water and cover supports a diverse web of life throughout the Bay Area. Wildlife reproduction rates are directly tied to plant growth.” “The rainfall is good news for aquatic habitats and the wildlife they support,” continues Schweitzer. “For example, the extended ponding season within vernal pools and stock ponds is beneficial for California red-legged frogs and California tiger salamanders — two locally-occurring amphibians that are severely threatened by development and invasive species.” Frogs and salamanders get more time in water, allowing them to fully metamorphose and then migrate to upland shelter Executive Director’s Message.....................2 before the dry season. “Many threatened and endangered In Memoriam.............................................2 fairy shrimp, a food source for numerous other aquatic All That Rain (Continuation).........................3 species and birds, have also benefited by being able to A Big Effort................................................4 complete their life cycles.” Wildflowers!...............................................4

what’s inside

Spotlight on Acalanes Ridge.......................5

Visit a John Muir Land Trust property to take all this in. Look for an owl, coyote, red-tailed hawk, deer, fox, turkey or the Alameda whipsnake as you wander down trails at continues on page 3

Donor Spotlight..........................................6 Tell Us What You Think................................6 Good News For Bluebirds...........................7 Host a Bluebird Family................................7 Events For Your Calendar............................8

Greetings, JOHN MUIR LAND TRUST P.O. Box 31 Martinez, CA 94553 925-228-5460

STAFF Linus Eukel Executive Director Karen Booth Individual Giving Manager Frances Browne Database Analyst Jay Dean Marketing Director Lynette Lievens Accounting Manager Glen Lewis Open Space Ranger Linda Michaud-Emin Conservation Analyst Carolina do Val Callao Office Manager Krista Vossekuil Development and Communications Manager


It’s spring! What a gorgeous time to enjoy the outdoors and take pride in what the JMLT community of supporters is doing for current and future residents of the East Bay. Recently, I was reminded of the vital importance of our local work from the broader national and state perspectives. We had the pleasure of a visit from Andrew Bowman, the new president of the Land Trust Alliance (LTA) and Ane Deister, the new executive director of the California Council of Land Trusts. Our guests made several interesting points. With shifting priorities and shrinking funding nationally and statewide, local land trusts such as JMLT demonstrate the vital importance of grassroots action. Support for land trusts across the country is booming, as neighbors pool resources to improve community health and well-being. Land conservation enjoys widespread support from people of all political perspectives because the benefits are so far-reaching. Did you know that voters approve over 70% of ballot measures for local conservation funding such as last year’s Measure AA? The LTA’s much praised accreditation program sets an extraordinarily high bar that reassures donors that land trusts are among the most disciplined, professional, and efficient parts of the non-profit sector of the economy. Land trusts in the U.S. have conserved more than 56 million acres nationwide. Undeveloped lands in the U.S. compensate for as much as 15% of the country’s annual carbon emissions responsible for climate change. In California, protection of watershed lands is one of our least expensive paths to an abundant and secure supply of clean drinking water. For those of us who appreciate metrics and numbers, there is no doubt that supporting local land conservation is quantitatively one of the best investments we can make. Then again, seeing the radiant smiles on the faces of people enjoying warm sunny days on beautiful East Bay lands is proof enough! Hope to see you outside. Respectfully,

Linus Eukel, Executive Director

Dawn Block Chair Eliot Hudson Vice Chair Arthur Bart-Williams Secretary Bill Wadsworth Treasurer Charles Lewis IV Immediate Past Chair Peggy S. Cabaniss Katie Hill Steve Hutchcraft Steven Kirby Ted C. Radosevich Follow us on social media:


In Memoriam Dr. Joseph A. Ovick passed away on March 30th. As a beloved member of the JMLT board of directors and during his 45-year career as an educator, including 18 years as Superintendent of Schools for Contra Costa County, Joe was a passionate advocate for children and a dedicated champion for protecting our natural heritage for future generations. The JMLT community expresses our deepest condolences to his family.

P ro te ct i n g t he p la ces that m ake the E as t Bay s peci al ALL THAT RAIN! Continued from page 1

Fernandez Ranch. Scan 360 degrees of rich Contra Costa splendor from the top of Acalanes Ridge. The ridge at Dutra Ranch or the top of Mt. Wanda will reward you with stunning panoramic views of the snow-topped Sierra Nevada to the east and Mt. Tamalpais to the west. When driving along Highway 4 near Hercules look for the property we’ve named Contra Costa Goldfields after the endangered flowers that concentrate their growth here. Spring is the best time to enjoy these bright yellow daisy-like flowers. CLEAN WATER Visitors to Mt. Wanda will enjoy listening to streams meandering down the hillsides accented by the drumming of woodpeckers hidden in trees. The importance of trickling creeks comes to mind on the many East Bay Municipal Utility District trails adjacent to Carr Ranch in Lamorinda. These creeks flow into the Upper San Leandro Reservoir — a source of water for tens of thousands of East Bay families. “We enjoy the benefits of water being continuously filtered through the soil at Carr Ranch to sustain healthy habitat and excellent water quality. The Carr family took great care of the land to preserve the soil, the plants and wildlife habitat,” explains Jenesse Miller of EBMUD, our partner in protecting this vital resource.

“We rely on volunteers to help with trail maintenance and smaller projects to bring everything back to healthy, normal conditions. But there are also major expenses.” — Glen Lewis

WATCH YOUR STEP There are downsides to all the rain, and that means more than just the direction you might take by losing your footing on a slippery trail (please be careful out there). In January, the views at JMLT properties were much different: flooded streams, trails covered by landslides from saturated hillsides, fallen trees, ruts in roads and disrupted drainage. This damage is expensive to repair. REPAIR AND RESTORATION “It is common to see trees falling during winter months when the wind blows and the ground is so saturated. With this much rain, the number of fallen and uprooted trees is unusually high,” reports Glen Lewis, ranger for JMLT. Heavy rains also wash away topsoil, becoming problematic when it is time to replant. “We rely on volunteers to help with trail maintenance and smaller projects to bring everything back to healthy, normal conditions. But there are also major expenses. Repairing property damage such as ruts in roads, drainage, landslides and replanting trees requires hiring contractors and renting heavy equipment,” he adds.

YOU CAN HELP Our five-year drought is hopefully behind us, and we are enjoying the delightful sights and sounds of spring. Yet, we have work to do to bring our properties back to prime condition. We rely on your generous financial support to meet these needs. Thanks to everyone who donated last year, and please consider contributing to ongoing stewardship by making a spring gift. Most important of all, get outside and enjoy!

Fernandez Ranch. Collapsed culvert underneath the road blocks the channel with sediment.

Fernandez Ranch. Work is needed to bring our properties back to prime condition.

Sky Ranch. Ranch roads built 100 years ago lacked proper slope to provide for runoff.

Dutra Ranch. Oversaturated soil slides downhill and obstructs trails. PAG E T H R E E

A Big Effort

(BUT, THE LEAST WE CAN DO) The generosity of the people who preserve and protect our natural lands is huge. One small gesture we make is to recognize them by name (sometimes easier said than done). The good folks at American Soil & Stone, who do this sort of thing every week, told us that getting our plaque to the top of Acalanes Ridge was the most difficult installation they had ever done! These photos document their heroic effort. Visit the hilltop to admire their craftsmanship and the spectacular view. Photos:

WILDFLOWERS! The winter rain has has produced one of the best years ever to enjoy the seasonal colors on our hillsides. We asked JMLT supporters Bill and Lesley Hunt, impassioned enthusiasts for East Bay wildflowers, to visit Acalanes Ridge. Bill enjoyed walking from the top of the hill down to the fork in the trail, and then turning right to the north. He saw a variety of flowers close to the trail including elegant clarkia, pink owl’s clover, blue lupine, and Chinese houses, named for their pagoda-like stacks of flowers on the main stem. Passing through the north entrance into Acalanes Open Space, Bill turned left. Past the trees, he turned for a view of baby blue eyes dotting the grassy hillside and beyond them a wash of pink Chinese houses covering the slope. Bill says that Acalanes Ridge has the best stand of baby blue eyes in central Contra Costa. Thank you, Bill and Lesley! (Photos: Bill and Lesley Hunt)


Elegant Clarkia




The story of saving Acalanes Ridge speaks to the power of neighbors coming together in a true grassroots effort. While the 23-acre property is small compared to other John Muir Land Trust properties, it is extremely important to those in the surrounding communities who enjoy its scenery, trails and sweeping panoramic views of the region. A decade ago the prominent property lacked a clear champion. The owner of the land had met obstacles for a planned development, and needed a solution. While located within the City of Lafayette, the property was isolated from Lafayette-owned lands, and was more directly connected to Walnut Creek open space. The City of Walnut Creek was understandably not in a position to fully fund land outside its boundaries. Lafayette was interested, but had limited funds. The East Bay Regional Park District viewed the land as an important trail connector and valuable open space, but felt it was not the best steward for a small, isolated parcel. This situation is precisely where a land trust fits in. John Muir Land Trust was approached by all parties to see if “we could solve the problem.” We worked with the landowner to establish a fair price. We assisted citizens and municipal governments to raise awareness of the opportunity to protect the land and secure the necessary funding. A great example of these efforts is the Walnut Creek Open Space Foundation, who lobbied diligently for the campaign and helped raise funds from ballot measures, partner organizations and generous neighbors. The happy ending is that JMLT successfully took ownership of the property in perpetuity. The other part of the happy ending — including a Hollywood-worthy evening sky if you time it right — is that Acalanes Ridge is accessible for everyone to enjoy via several trails. Reaching the 781-foot summit you will be treated to a wide panorama of the Livermore foothills, Mt. Diablo, Suisun Bay, the Carquinez Strait, Briones Regional Park, the Oakland Hills and Las Trampas Regional Park. It is a glorious way to take in the expansive beauty around us.

One of our favorite photographers, Adam Weidenbach, recently captured the beautiful spring colors of Acalanes Ridge and other JMLT properties. See more at

Chinese Houses

Owl’s Clover


P ro te ct i n g t he p la ces that m ake the E as t Bay s peci al

Donor Spotlight

Tell Us What You Think Your Opinion Shapes the Future of Pacheco Marsh


In 2001, JMLT purchased 247-acre Pacheco Marsh in a partnership with the Contra Costa County Flood Control and Water Conservation District. The marsh is a rare treasure, as more than ninety-five percent of the original saltwater tidal wetlands in the San Francisco Bay have been lost to development. Salt marshes play a vital role in the aquatic ecosystem and deliver important nutrients to coastal waters.

A local couple have generously bequeathed their home to John Muir Land Trust. Devoted hikers and lovers of the great outdoors, the pair raised their children among the rolling East Bay hills. The new Wry Stewardship Endowment Fund will be applied to the maintenance of lands under the protection of JMLT — lands that we all enjoy. Wishing to remain anonymous, the couple chose the name “Wry” in honor of a little scrub jay with a twisted neck that they nursed back to health and protected for 23 years. Wry was a loving surrogate mother for younger jays, and though she was never tame, she was very loved. An extraordinary gift to us all, The Wry Stewardship Endowment Fund will thus care for and honor the open spaces where the wild and loved can meet. East Bay families raising children and countless wildlife inhabitants will benefit for generations to come.

MARSH The property bears scars of decades of human activity. The creek J O HPACHECO N MUIR LAND TRUST was widened and redirected, and a dike blocked natural tidal flow from replenishing water and nutrients. A small ridge marks where an underground sewer pipe runs the length of the property. JMLT

We’re bringing it back! As part of the Lower Walnut Creek Restoration project, the District and JMLT’s vision is to create a sustainable creek that provides flood protection while supporting the plants and animals that call the creek home. The project will offer low-impact recreational opportunities for human visitors. Pacheco Marsh is a place of remarkable contrasts. Visitors will marvel at the pristine habitat — it is a bird watcher’s paradise — while enormous ships pass in the Bay to the north and the surrounding towers of oil refineries provide a stark industrial backdrop. Biologists are busy recreating the habitat for threatened bird species, marine invertebrates and coastal fish that rely on the salt marsh ecosystem. You can help with the other half of the plan, how best to accommodate human visitors. What sort of trails would you like to see? Educational displays? Room for parking? Rest rooms?

We need to hear from you! Take five minutes to complete our survey at


P ro te ct i n g t he p la ces that m ake the E as t Bay s peci al

Good News For Bluebirds

YOU CAN HELP: HOST A BLUEBIRD FAMILY We have bluebird boxes available on a first-come basis for pickup at our office in Martinez. If you’d like to install, maintain and monitor one, contact It does require a bit of work. Learn what’s involved at

“The day combined everything we look for — beautiful space, great partners and meaningful work that allows us to give back to the community in an important and rewarding way,” — Cassie Cyphers, Clif Bar

Bluebird families all over the East Bay are moving into new homes, courtesy of industrious JMLT volunteers. Employees at Emeryville-based Clif Bar & Company got things started when they picked up power drills, saws and wire cutters to assemble 150 bird boxes last summer at an all-day volunteer event at Fernandez Ranch in Hercules. Each home of FSC-certified redwood was built to precise specifications provided by The California Bluebird Recovery Program (CBRP). Clif Bar is a member of JMLT’s Corporate Council, a dedicated group of businesses who share our desire to permanently preserve the places that make the East Bay special. Other teams helped care for the property by repairing drip irrigation systems, rehabilitating over two miles of hiking trails, setting new signposts, and removing thousands of invasive thistles and weeds. The 150 bluebird homes are being installed at locations throughout the East Bay. On a recent gorgeous spring day, a team of JMLT volunteers under the direction of folks from CBRP installed ten homes on seven foot-poles at Fernandez Ranch. Remarkably, just five minutes after installing the sixth box, a bluebird couple was seen checking it out. One stood watch on top while the other made interior inspections. We’ll know soon if they liked what they saw.

SUPPORT STEWARDSHIP Your donation to JMLT helps us take care of 3,100 acres yearround. Thank you! Clif Bar employees build bird boxes.

CBRP’s Georgette Howington notes location for future monitoring.


Ranger Glen Lewis and JMLT volunteer Steve Harvey install a new home at Fernandez Ranch.

For information on the benefits of joining our Corporate Council, contact Krista Vossekuil at PAG E S E V E N

Nonprofit U.S. Postage PAID Martinez, CA Permit No. 189


P.O. Box 31, Martinez CA 94553


CALENDAR For details visit

Opening of Newly Expanded Fernandez Ranch Saturday, June 3, 2017 Fernandez Ranch, Hercules Now twice as beautiful! The property formerly known as Franklin Canyon is merging into one new 1,100-acre Fernandez Ranch with hours of new trails to explore and more gorgeous views. Come celebrate with us.




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MAKE A LASTING DIFFERENCE Preserved land is a lasting legacy for future generations. You provide a solid foundation for JMLT’s conservation efforts through the donation of a legacy gift: Bequests | Charitable Trusts | Life Insurance Stock Gifts | Retirement Plan For more information about Legacy Gifts visit or contact Executive Director Linus Eukel at or 925-228-1130.

Back On The Road! Supporter and dear friend Doug McConnell returns with a new season of Open Road. A veteran television personality and passionate advocate for the outdoors, Doug takes you along to explore places a bit off the beaten track as he shares inspirational stories about protecting these lands for public enjoyment. JMLT is a sponsor and Doug will be showcasing our properties this season. Sundays 6:30 p.m. on NBC Bay Area

JMLT Horizons | Spring 2017  

JMLT Horizons Newsletter Spring 2017

JMLT Horizons | Spring 2017  

JMLT Horizons Newsletter Spring 2017