2017 Diablo Watch - Spring/Summer Edition, Issue 63

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Diablo Watch SPRING/SUMMER 2017 | No. 63

The Heart of Mount Diablo:

Water, Water, Everywhere Ranch Ponds & Tiger Salamanders New Conservation Collaboration for Earth Day 2017 79873_SaveMtDiablo_r1.indd 1

Stephen Joseph

Keeping Curry Canyon FOR E V ER W I LD

6/7/17 8:18 PM

Stephen Joseph

Letter from the Executive Director

Staff Ted Clement Executive Director Seth Adams Land Conservation Director Meredith Hendricks Land Programs Director Monica Oei Finance & Administration Director Deborah Toll White Development Director Jim Cartan Stewardship & Outreach Coordinator Caleb Castle Communications Manager Hidemi Crosse Bookkeeper Karen Ferriere Assistant Development Director Juan Pablo Galván Land Use Manager Shannon Grover Development Administrative Assistant Dana Halpin General Office Manager Katie Lopez Accounting & Administration Associate Joanne McCluhan Executive Assistant Kristen Noe Development Associate George Phillips Land Conservation Manager

Dear Friend of the Mountain,


ith the leadership change at the national level, we are seeing almost daily headlines about our environment, and systems set up to protect it, under siege.

Earlier this year, Greenbelt Alliance released a study entitled At Risk: The Bay Area Greenbelt

2017. That report noted the following: “Across the [nine] Bay Area counties addressed in this report, Contra Costa County has the most total land at risk; about one out of every five acres of threatened land in the region is in Contra Costa. Contra Costa also has the most land at high risk, land that could be developed in the near term.” Further, it is projected that about 2 million more people will move to the Bay Area by 2045.

D espite these challenges, Save Mount Diablo and you, our visionary and generous supporters, are demonstrating leadership by taking the steps necessary to ensure our organizational infrastructure is stronger— so that we can better face the challenges, compete on behalf of the environment, and deliver on our promise of protecting the critical natural lands of the Mount Diablo area for current and future generations.

Ted Clement

Board of Directors Scott Hein, President Burt Bassler, Treasurer Amara Morrison, Secretary Heath Bartosh Joe Canciamilla Jim Felton John Gallagher Liz Harvey Claudia Hein Bob Marx Sue Ohanian Malcolm Sproul Jeff Stone

F or example, in this edition of

Diablo Watch, you will read about our work to establish a permanent Stewardship Endowment Fund and a Revolving Land Acquisition Opportunity Fund so that we can acquire more critical properties like Curry Canyon Ranch more quickly, and a Legal Defense Fund for our precious lands.

Save Mount Diablo’s Executive Director, Ted Clement and his wife, Boonsuay Clement, enjoying a wet and wild hike on Mount Diablo earlier this year.

We understand that Mount Diablo and its interconnected surrounding natural lands serve as our area’s nourishing foundation—enhancing our quality of life with outdoor recreational opportunities, beautiful scenic vistas, watershed protection, vibrant wildlife habitat corridors, and fresh foods from local agriculture and ranching. It provides other ecosystem services such as mitigating climate change, and numerous economic benefits such as natural lands keeping the cost of community services low while also maintaining the Mount Diablo area as a desirable place to live, work and visit as per the real estate adage “Location, Location, Location!”. Thus, together, we will step up, face the challenges, and make a lasting green difference for our Mount Diablo area. We are so grateful to have you with us at this very important time.

With Gratitude,

Edward Sortwell Clement, Jr. Executive Director Save Mount Diablo

Diablo Watch is published twice yearly for friends of Save Mount Diablo, a nationally accredited land trust and 501(3)(c) organization.

Save Mount Diablo

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6/9/17 12:39 PM

Stephen Joseph Ted Clement

Fostering Long Term Sustainability

For Fut u re Gener at ion s

The Mount Diablo area is our region’s critical natural & nourishing foundation. Save Mount Diablo will establish three funds to help responsibly protect, steward and defend the Diablo lands for the lasting benefit of current and future generations. REVOLVING LAND ACQUISITION OPPORTUNITY FUND:

The purpose of this fund will be to address the timing gap between a conservation opportunity

and securing the money needed to accomplish it. This fund will serve as Save Mount Diablo’s (SMD) revolving acquisition war chest—so that SMD can quickly provide funds for option payments, real estate due diligence, and smaller purchase price payments—until SMD can raise all the funds necessary to close the deal and reimburse the fund. We need these readily available funds to compete against numerous developers and others vying for the Mount Diablo region’s remaining unprotected open space lands. Our goal is to raise at least $2.25 million for this fund by 2019. Greenbelt Alliance published a study earlier this year, At Risk: The Bay Area Greenbelt 2017, which noted, “Across the [nine] Bay Area counties…Contra Costa County has the most total land at risk; about one out of every five acres of land in the region is in Contra Costa. Contra Costa also has the most land at high risk, land that could be developed in the near term.” Further, it has been projected that about 2 million more people will move into the Bay Area by 2045. The time for the creation of Save Mount Diablo’s Revolving Land Acquisition Opportunity Fund is now.


The purpose of

the perpetual Stewardship Endowment Fund will be to financially support, in perpetuity, Save Mount Diablo’s stewardship obligations—including annual monitoring of our conserved lands, maintaining the properties owned by us, managing our perpetual conservation easements, etc. We can see that our supporters would like to help create a lasting green legacy for the Mount Diablo area with their estate plans—so planned gifts will be part of what helps us create this fund, which will enable us to do our stewardship work for the Mount Diablo area in perpetuity. Our goal is to create a Stewardship Endowment Fund of at least $3 million by 2019.


Finally, we will establish a Legal Defense Fund of

at least $150,000. The purpose of the Legal Defense Fund will be to ensure Save Mount Diablo has the financial resources to legally defend, if necessary, its perpetual conservation easements and fee simple owned lands—so that these important places can continue to nourish the people and flora and fauna of the Mount Diablo area for generations to come. By Deborah Toll White Development Director Save Mount Diablo

Scott Hein

For more information on these three new fund opportunities, please contact Deborah Toll White, Development Director, by phone at (925) 949-4513 or by email at dwhite@savemountdiablo.org.

Our region’s love of the Mount Diablo area will inspire the vision, leadership and generosity necessary to successfully create these three funds for the long-term care of our natural and nourishing foundation. Preserve Defend Restore Enjoy

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6/9/17 4:06 PM

Stephen Joseph

Water, Water, Everywhere!


short-term results from fully saturated soils. As soils begin to dry out and property access improves, Save Mount Diablo staff will have a full plate inventorying impacts and prioritizing remediation projects.

n my very first day with Save Mount Diablo it poured. It rained so hard that our California Coastal Cleanup workday was cut short and volunteers were sent back to their vehicles soaking wet. In many cultures, rain is a spiritual blessing—a positive symbol for good tidings to come. That was in September of 2013.

L andscapes are surprisingly resilient

T he omen was indeed positive for my

I had not yet experienced a truly wet

Stephen Joseph

position with Save Mount Diablo, but the annual precipitation we took for granted would soon change for the worse. In the years to follow, California entered the heart of our widely publicized drought. The early rains in 2013 were followed by irregular and weak storms during 2014, 2015, and 2016, resulting in record-low snow pack, overdrafted groundwater a q u i f e r s, a n d p a r ch e d l a n d s c a p e s statewide.

and these damages are more of an inconvenience for land managers and residents than the actual ecology. Strong precipitation early in the year will result in increased forage for mammals, increased flowering plants for pollinators and other insects in the spring, and increased water flow for fish and other freshwater organisms. The amount of rain we have received in 2017 will help support biodiversity in the Diablo Range and support new or ongoing habitat restoration projects.

Even with all these positive results in

Northern California, it is still important to understand that winter precipitation winter in the Diablo Range until this year. was not evenly distributed across the For some Save Mount Diablo properties, state. Before the wet weather of 2017, we had the luxury of never addressing a road wash out or failed culvert. During the first couple the majority of California had been in “severe” or “extreme” of months of 2017, Contra Costa County saw some of the drought based on the region. While we are now essentially highest recorded precipitation totals in history. The damage free of drought conditions in Contra Costa County, there that we have witnessed since—downed trees, landslides, road are still various levels of drought in the state’s southern slumps, and compromised creek banks—is mostly localized, and central areas. Despite improved conditions, the State Water Resources Control Board recently voted to extend California’s emergency drought regulations. With Withthe thehighest highest rainfall rainfall in in years, years,water waterflowed flowed heavily heavilyover overDragon Dragon Falls Falls this this wet wetseason, season,following following aasevere severe long long drought across across California. California.

George Phillips

F ull

The precession of storms this past winter funneled debris down streams, which clogged culverts and washed away roads like this one located in Curry Canyon Ranch’s South Canyon.


reser voirs, snowpack in the Sierra Nevada, and greening landscapes across the state can provide hope, but it is difficult to predict a California that is sustainably flush with water. We should still observe best water management practices put out by state officials in the heart of the drought. It is more important now than ever to be diligent in our water conservation efforts, especially in the face of changing climate and more extreme weather events. Even though individual water consumption is minimal compared to other usage, we can still make a difference in our communities. By Jim Cartan Stewardship & Outreach Coordinator Save Mount Diablo

Save Mount Diablo

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Stephen Joseph

T he He a r t of Mou nt Di ablo

Ke epi n g Cu r r y Ca nyon R a nch F O R E V E R W I L D

Breathtaking Curry Canyon S

ave Mount Diablo purchased the 1,080-acre Curry Canyon Ranch for $7.2 million in May 2013. Our highest priority for decades, 50% larger than Angel Island, it is the most important Save Mount Diablo acquisition since North Peak in 1980 and our biggest, most expensive project. We began the acquisition in earnest in 2009 and there were many challenges. We were able to complete its purchase—the first step— with a three-year $4.5 million loan from our friends Dana and Dave Dornsife.

to exposed grassland ridges and peaks, with unparalleled views, bordered by a mile of rocky cliffs, pine forests and wind caves. It includes 12 of the mountain’s 16 plant communities, suppor ting incredible biological diversity. It is the “missing link” in four major State Park trail connections.

usually begins when 70-80% of the goal has been secured.

We planned to lead many tours at this

showcase property. Then the Morgan Fire happened in September 2013 and became everyone’s focus. The valley at Curry Canyon Ranch was used to stage the response to the fire—which S o m e o f o u r s u p p o r t e r s k n ow undoubtedly helped save the house on that the beautiful property was the the property as well as many others— centerpiece of the first phase of a but which also beat the valley up, $15 million capital campaign which burned and bulldozed our mile and a we call F O R E V E R W I L D . We’ve been half long water line, and threatened Curry Canyon Ranch is a Shangri-La engaged in the first “silent” phase of major erosion. of sycamore-lined creeks, lush canyons the campaign with individual donation studded with house-sized boulders requests, in part to pay off the property. The Morgan Fire was distracting, but rising from a fragrant isolated valley A public phase of a capital campaign despite the drought, and instead of

Scott Hein

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Top: View of main peaks from Curry Canyon Ranch (Stephen Joseph). Left: Map of Curry Canyon Ranch parcel. Right: Curry Canyon Ranch (Scott Hein). Preserve Defend Restore Enjoy

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T he He a r t of Mou nt Di a blo

Ke epi n g Cu r r y Ca nyon R a nch F O R E V E R W I L D Continued from page 5 ...

Clayton, and a car trip through Livermore takes an extra erosion from the 3000-acre burn area, we got three years hour each way. We’ve rescheduled or relocated many events of incredible wildflowers—including huge numbers of fire including the property dedication. follower flowers that may only appear once a generation.



P aying off the loan was our highest priority, even as Executive Director Ron Brown retired and Ted Clement, our new Executive Director, took the helm. Deborah White, our Development Director, joined us soon thereafter. To meet our original loan deadline, we took a second smaller

Some Native Americans believe that they should consider whether their decisions today would benefit their children seven generations into the future—210 years. Park planning should be like that. Comparatively, the first national parks were created around the time of the Civil War, 150 years ago. (Wildlife biology is just as recent.)

loan with The Conservation Fund. That bridge loan with The When we took ownership of Curry Canyon Ranch, we were Conservation Fund enabled us to pay off the original loan to tempted by all of its possibilities, while shouldering all of the the Dornsifes ahead of the June 1, 2016 deadline. Then in necessities of being good neighbors and the responsibilities March of this year, we paid off the bridge loan ahead of its November 2017 deadline. We’re getting close to unveiling the next phase of our F O R E V E R W I L D campaign. So in anticipation, we scheduled many tours and events on our showcase property, Curry Canyon Ranch. We began planning a property dedication.

Then it started raining.

Meredith Hendricks

Last year’s El Niño promised heavy storms, then fizzled, but this year’s storms just kept coming. The mountain is as spectacularly green as it’s been in decades. There are slumps and landslides all over the place, one of our Curry Canyon fire roads completely washed out, a pond dam is causing concern, and the water line was snapped by flooding Curry Creek. Morgan Territory Road was washed out, cutting off several hundred homes and us. It’s now easier to get to Curry Canyon Ranch hiking from Danville, than driving from

We’re raising the bar on beneficial grazing at Curry Canyon Ranch. Conservationbased grazing can replicate the ecological niche occuppied by hoofed animals in the wild, stimulating native plants and increasing plant diversity.


Curry Canyon Ranch is Save Mount Diablo's flagship property.

Save Mount Diablo

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of owning a piece of land bigger than Emeryville: gates to discourage vandalism, eight miles of fire roads, nine miles of fencing, trail connections, cultural sites, wind caves, grazing, clean up projects, house repairs, research projects, etc.

O ur first goal was to do no harm. Two BioBlitzes had

recorded 800 species on the property, dozens of them rare or threatened. Cultural sites are even more sensitive. With a few exceptions, our work has been about subtraction rather than addition. Our two stewardship staff members and many amazing volunteers have removed tons of debris.

Stephen Joseph

Acquisition is the first step. Stewardship is forever.

“Some Native Americans believe that they should consider whether decisions today would benefit their children seven generations in the future—210 years. Park planning should be like that.”

For three years, we’ve been getting to know Curry Canyon REASSEMBLING CURRY CANYON Ranch. We’re developing management techniques and building our capacity while learning more along the way. Surrounded on three sides by the state park, threatened by fire, drenched by floods, Curry Canyon Ranch remains just Acquisition is the first step. Stewardship is forever. out of reach. Once Morgan Territory Road is repaired, we’ll reschedule the dedication and donor tours. We’ll be telling you more about our F O R E V E R W I L D capital campaign. Curry Canyon Ranch has intensive management needs—its transfer to Mount Diablo State Park will be hard and will take a long time. It might be added to the Park in pieces over a number of years. We’ll provide frequent member tours. We might provide public access to the upper part of the property in the interim. We might retain part of the property around the house. Curry Canyon is the largest remaining canyon on Diablo’s

main peaks. For now, know that we want to celebrate Curry Canyon Ranch and show it to you. You’ll hear more when we know when Morgan Territory Road will be reopened.

Scott Hein Scott Hein

The real celebration is that with your support, our 1,200 acres of preservation in lower Curry Canyon—our Wright Canyon property, Rideau conservation easement, and Curry Canyon Ranch—have expanded preservation of 4.3 mile Curry Canyon to 85%. We’ve dramatically expanded the wildlife corridors and filled the gap between Diablo’s peaks, Oyster Point, and Riggs Canyon. Thank you!

Four Days Diablo hikers approach Curry Canyon Ranch on the second day of a 31-mile long backpacking trip down the Mount Diablo Trail.

By Seth Adams Land Conservation Director Save Mount Diablo Preserve Defend Restore Enjoy

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Al Johnson

Ranch Ponds & Tiger Salamanders


George Phillips

rmed with a spotlight and headlamp, I took off for Mount Diablo’s foothills around midnight as a steady rainfall abruptly transitioned to a torrential downpour. Surely this was not the safest time to be on the road, but I knew it would be one of the only chances of the year to encounter a rare and secretive amphibian, the California tiger salamander. Soaking early season rains trigger their migration from insulated homes in ground squirrel burrows to breeding sites, most commonly in stock ponds. Sadly, that wild goose chase didn’t result in a cool discovery, but ever since then I have been fascinated by the mountain’s elusive amphibians—so I began to explore what could be done on our properties to restore their habitat.

Before restoration began, decades of silt built up in the bottoms of the ponds, decreasing capacity, raising temperatures and speeding evaporation.

S tock ponds have historically been constructed across

District (RCD), in partnership with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), began a stock pond initiative to help landowners restore their ponds.

In 2016, the pond initiative was replicated in Contra Costa

County. Save Mount Diablo signed up to be one of the pilot participants in the program with the goal of cleaning out ponds at our Curry Canyon Ranch and Mangini Ranch properties. The actual on-the-ground restoration work turned out to be simple in comparison to the complicated planning, permitting and funding components. Without guidance and leadership from the NRCS and Contra Costa RCD, the projects wouldn’t have been feasible. Our partners helped us attain the five required permits and kept down our out-of-pocket costs by providing cost-share payments and grant funding.

Once the regulatory and financial hurdles were addressed, we were in a race against time to implement the projects due to a strict construction window before the rainy season commenced. Nothing about the construction was easy. Equipment broke down, dump-truck loads of boulders were painstakingly shuttled four miles up steep ranch roads using mining haul trucks, and the site had to be manipulated to satisfy engineered elements of the plan.

George Phillips

the East Bay to provide supplemental water for livestock purposes. Ironically, these stock ponds have become refuges for wildlife—especially threatened and endangered species that once occupied and bred in areas now covered by development. Riparian and wetland habitats have been heavily impacted as the population has grown in California, because they are most commonly found in flat, easy-tobuild areas. This has had a profound negative impact on the species that rely on them. In response, numerous amphibian After restoration, deeper, desilted ponds provide more and improved habitat. species have colonized stock ponds because they often hold water long enough into the dry season for their larvae to In less than two weeks, our contractor was able complete complete metamorphosis. the final phase of this year-long restoration project on three ponds by removing enough accumulated sludge to fill up two Many of our county’s ponds were created in the early to thirds of an Olympic size swimming pool. Our timing was mid-1900’s and have not been cleaned out since. Contra perfect—immediately after we completed construction, this Costa County has some of the most highly erosive soils in winter’s record rainfall filled the ponds to capacity. These California. During our rainy season, natural erosion processes pond projects will now enable us to better manage our deposit sediment in ponds, reducing their water holding lands and ensure we are doing our part to provide habitat capacity and putting pressure on their embankments and essential for the long-term spillways. Recognizing the need to maintain these important sustainability of wildlife By George Phillips aquatic features, the Alameda County Resource Conservation on Diablo’s natural lands. Land Conservation Manager Save Mount Diablo


Save Mount Diablo

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Top banner image: During our annual BioBlitz ponds are inspected to document species.

6/9/17 4:07 PM

Stephen Joseph

My Mount Diablo


Meredith Hendricks

first camped on Mount Diablo as a young Boy Scout. We I get to visit remote parts of the mountain and foothills that slept at the long gone Camp Force near Curry Point. The co-founder Mary Bowerman thought should be preserved. I invasion of nighttime raccoons is about all that I remember, also am fortunate to work with a sea of but the seeds of conser vation were devoted volunteers who like to spend a planted. By bicycle, foot, or car, I have day helping our mountain. Sometimes the visited this special place ever since. work is physically demanding and dirty, but it is never boring. D ecades later, my wife Tena and I attended a talk by Seth Adams. I told We visit the mountain for many different Tena that we need to get involved with reasons: exercise, solace, study, etc. Me? this group. Little did I know where this I like the unspoiled vistas that we can might lead. I offered to volunteer and we appreciate from a remote ridge or valley. participated in Four Days Diablo. Thanks to the people of Contra Costa The next thing you know, I am on the County for working so hard to preserve, Land Committee, where many strategic not my mountain, but our mountain. land use decisions and recommendations are made. That was a fascinating learning SMD Board of Directors & Land Committee By John Gallagher curve! Joining the Board of Directors member John Gallagher relaxes with a glass Board of Directors was easy. I am happy also to chair SMD’s of wine in a cozy camping chair during the Land Committee Member Four Days Diablo 2017 Backpacking Trip. Stewardship Committee where my skills are Save Mount Diablo more useful.



ount Diablo offers so much more than a stunning view. The mountain is a vital part of keeping our community healthy. The mountain provides spectacular wild flowers, dense vegetation sheltering wildlife, fresh water for plants and animals, oxygen for the very air we breathe, and boundless recreational opportunities to help keep our bodies and spirits fit.

There is a natural synergy between real estate professionals

in our community and Save Mount Diablo. Save Mount Diablo’s land conservation mission helps keep the Diablo area a desirable place to live, work and visit, which is critical for the real estate industry.

Our New Progr am for Real Estate Professionals

What a wonderful, unique and meaningful way to welcome

someone to their new community and get them involved with a local nonprofit organization that is helping protect their recent real estate investment and quality of life!

Your client will receive a customized welcome packet from

us, which acknowledges you and your thoughtful gift, along with a number of membership benefits depending on the level of membership purchased, including invitations to members-only events, hikes and tours of Mount Diablo.

As a benefit to you, we’ll highlight your support in our print

and online publications, reaching thousands of Mount Diablo-loving local residents. We are offering a 20% S ave Mount Diablo has developed a new program for discount to real estate professionals on purchases of ten or real estate professionals. In our new program, real estate more Friend of the Mountain memberships for all levels. professionals give the gift of a Save Mount Diablo Friend We look forward to partnering with you! of the Mountain membership to their clients after closings.

A brilliant orange rufous hummingbird perches on a branch, captured by the camera in a moment of stillness. (Credit: Jerry Britten) To find out more about this creative and meaningful opportunity, contact Karen Ferriere, Assistant Development Director, by phone at (925) 949-4518 or by email at kferriere@savemountdiablo.org.

By Karen Ferriere Assistant Development Director Save Mount Diablo Preserve Defend Restore Enjoy

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Al Johnson

New C on ser vat ion C ol l a bor at ion for E a r t h Day 2017 S ave Mou nt D i a blo, Mou nt D i a blo R e s ou rce R e cover y a nd Ca l St ate E a st Bay


F inally, in an act of

Al Johnson

n Earth Day, April 22, 2017, Save Mount Diablo (SMD), Mount Diablo Resource Recovery, a Garaventa company (MDRR), and California State University, East Bay (CSUEB) signed a creative Conservation Collaboration Agreement to demonstrate their gratitude for the beautiful Mount Diablo natural areas while also learning more about these places and helping protect and steward the land.

educational and participatory philanthropy, MDRR will generously provide SMD memberships for all of its employees while CSUEB students will raise funds to enable 30 children in Contra Costa County’s underserved areas to become members o f S M D t h r o u g h S M D ’s y o u t h membership program. Participating CSUEB student groups will also have the option to raise funds to become SMD members.

Al Johnson

“ T o expedite our time-sensitive land Classroom lecture at Cal State East Bay Concord Save Mount Diablo (SMD), Mount Diablo conservation work for the Mount Diablo campus. Resource Recovery (MDRR) and Cal State East Bay A ccording to CSUEB President Leroy area, Save Mount Diablo is reaching out (CSUEB) Conservation Collaboration Agreement. M. Morishita, participation in this to students and other leaders to join Conservation Collaboration Agreement the cause. We all have a major stake in what our future not only demonstrates Cal State East Bay’s commitment environment will be like, especially young people. We entered to higher education in Contra Costa County, but also its our first Conservation Collaboration Agreement with Joaquin goal of integrating the concepts of sustainability into all Moraga Intermediate School for Earth Day 2016. We are aspects of university life. “Working with our community grateful for the leadership, long-term vision and philanthropy partners, we hope to create meaningful learning experiences demonstrated by Mount Diablo Resource Recovery and Cal for our students that address both the challenges as well State East Bay for entering this Conservation Collaboration as the possibilities of social, environmental and economic Agreement with Save Mount Diablo,” said Ted Clement, Save leadership for the entire East Bay,” Morishita said. Mount Diablo’s Executive Director. Joe Garaventa, CEO of Mount Diablo Resource Recovery, The Conservation Collaboration Agreement had three basic appreciates the opportunity to align and partner with two parts. First, the staff of SMD provided in-class educational like-minded and highly respected organizations: “This presentations regarding land conservation to the participating collaboration is a perfect fit. MDRR places a high value on students of Cal State East Bay and the employees of Mount both the environment and education. This collaborative Diablo Resource Recovery the agreement brings everything week of Earth Day 2017. tog ether. In a time when so many other companies Second, also during the week simply practice landfill based of Earth Day 2017, SMD staff diversion, we pride ourselves taught and led the participating on real and tr ue diversion students of CSUEB and programs that respect the the employees of MDRR environment, avoid the landfill in an outdoor, experiential and protect the future of our environmental service project pristine natural landscapes. Yes, at one of SMD’s conserved Cal State East Bay students on their mini-solo, reflecting on the meaning of true diversion costs money, but properties which also included nature. Participants in the Conservation Collaboration Agreement included it’s the right thing to do.” a mini-solo on the land for students from CSUEB’s Environmental Studies 4300: Environmental Field each participant—engaging in Course (Dr. David Larson, Professor and Department Chair), SMD staff and volunteers, and MDRR staff. a contemplative journal writing exercise about nature. To learn more about SMD’s new Conservation Collaboration Agreement program and how to participate, please contact Jim Cartan at jcartan@savemountdiablo.org or (925) 947-3535.


By Jim Cartan Stewardship & Outreach Coordinator Save Mount Diablo

Save Mount Diablo

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George Phillips

S ave Mount Di ablo h as defended the Tassajar a Valley a nd surrounding hills for over two decades.

A H i stor y of Prote c t i ng Ta s s aja r a Va l ley


ave Mount Diablo (SMD) has defended the Tassajara Valley (Valley) and surrounding hills for over two decades. This rural area, characterized by rolling grassland and the important Tassajara Creek riparian corridor, is an agricultural buffer between protected open spaces in every direction.

ULL to include the Valley and allow housing subdivisions over the whole area. With the help of San Ramon residents, we crushed it with 72% of voters saying “no” to developing 1,600 acres of the Valley.

The public’s first major victory here was stopping the massive ‘Tassajara Valley Owners Property Association’ project in the late 1990’s. Under the leadership of former Contra Costa County (County) Supervisors Donna Gerber and Joe Canciamilla, SMD, the Sierra Club, Greenbelt Alliance, and hundreds of residents helped stop thousands of units proposed in the 4,900-acre project.

proposed on 220 acres of the Valley. Creekside Memorial Cemetery would impact rare plant and animal species, as well as the Valley aquifer. The local community was so concerned that when SMD led a hike in the summer of 2014 against this project, about 500 people, including local ranchers, showed up to signal their opposition! The cemetery project has gone quiet for a few years, but it may come back soon.

Besides massive housing projects, there’s also a cemetery

N ow it’s 2017 and the together to tighten the same developer that County Urban Limit proposed ‘New Farm’ has Line (ULL), a line worked for years on a very beyond which urban-style different project, ‘Tassajara development can’t occur, Parks’ (T Parks). In 2013, to place the Valley and ‘ N e w Fa r m ’ wa s t a b l e d other areas outside the and the developer began line, thus increasing their meeting with SMD, cities, protection. In 2004, when and other stakeholders Contra Costa County’s to see if a compromise Transportation Sales Tax could be reached: he “Measure C” came up for would get a return on his renewal as “Measure J”, investment and we could activists including SMD greatly benefit the public successfully included a Foreground: Part of the hills surrounding Tassajara Valley that would be protected by dramatically reducing provision that the County if T Parks is approved. Highland Ridge and Morgan Territory Regional Preserve are project impacts and threats visible in the background. and all cities adopt voterto the ULL. approved ULLs. In 2006, County voters and every city including San Ramon once T Parks proposes two main things: 1) adjust the current ULL again approved an ULL with the Valley outside the line. to move 30 acres inside the line and build 125 houses there next to Tassajara Hills Elementary School and 2) protection In 2007, the ‘New Farm’ project proposed to build 186 houses of 710 acres (92% of all the land involved in the project) and a cemetery over 771 acres of the Valley. Developers as open space, most of which would connect with existing proposed to do this by changing the definition of what Hidden Valley Open Space areas just east of San Ramon. “urban” development is. If people accepted that development beyond the ULL wasn’t “urban”, then it wouldn’t matter if it Normally, we’d say that any project protecting 92% of the was on one side of the line or the other. Thanks to the work land is a no-brainer in terms of the massive conservation of SMD, concerned officials, Valley and nearby city residents, benefits to be gained. Even more in this case, since the land no one was fooled. So much resistance was generated that to be protected with T Parks connects with existing protected the developer would later table ‘New Farm’. lands. Also, building on just 30 acres, as opposed to spreading houses over 771 acres of the Valley, is a huge difference. In 2010, we achieved a great victory in San Ramon against Measure W, which would have greatly expanded San Ramon’s So what’s the controversy? George Phillips George Phillips

Then in 2000, we worked

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George Phillips

A H i stor y of Protec t i ng Ta s s aja r a Va l ley Continued from page 11...

The Valley is a water-short area and residents are concerned

about groundwater effects. The 30 acres where houses would be built are also just outside the current ULL. What if allowing this project to adjust the ULL encourages other projects around the County?

Save Mount Diablo doesn’t view T Parks in such alarming terms:

First, the proposal is perfectly legal. Right now the ULL can be adjusted by 30 acres or less with a 4/5 th’s vote of the County Board of Supervisors if certain requirements are met; changing it by more than 30 acres requires a vote of the people.

Second, T Parks would not use groundwater. Water would

be piped in like other typical urban developments. There is no evidence that removing 30 acres of surface area would significantly impact groundwater recharge potential for the thousands of acres in the Valley.

than 30 acres. If a developer’s measure is proposed and wins a vote of the people (as happened in Pittsburg and Antioch in 2005), thousands of acres could be brought within the ULL instead of just 30.

Fourth, the 30 acres proposed for development is right next

to an already developed area. The rest of the project site that would be protected covers a huge swath of the Valley that possesses higher conservation values than what would be developed. The open space which would be protected would create a “green wall” along this part of the ULL, making it more permanent.

Fifth, after decades of

battle, this is a much better project than what has been proposed before and is a good way to get a powerful developer out of the Valley by allowing him to develop just 4% of the 771 acres he owns here. If T Parks fails, nothing guarantees that something much worse won’t follow and possibly succeed.

George Phillips

Third, the ULL can already be moved, and by much more

Map of the proposed Tassajara Parks project site area (marked by translucent green with yellow boundary line), including existing protected open space (marked in solid green).

Finally, the developer is also proposing to help the Valley

by creating an Agricultural Enhancement Preserve (AEP), which would get various jurisdictions on the same page about the area’s future, and provide millions of dollars for additional preservation and agricultural enhancement.

Save Mount Diablo has not yet taken a formal position on

the T Parks project itself, but we already support the AEP and the proposed conservation benefits. We continue to S ixth, such a high ratio of protection (710 acres) for work out details on the AEP development (30 acres) is a very positive precedent. Given and the proposed mitigation the location of proposed open space in such high quality fund. We’ll keep you posted. By Juan Pablo Galván habitat for rare species, next to existing protected areas, the Land Use Manager Save Mount Diablo potential conservation benefits of T Parks are immense. 12

Save Mount Diablo

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Scott Hein

With Gratitude

BIG Thanks to our generous sponsors!


Scott Hein

Jim & Bette Felton Scott & Claudia Hein

Thanks to all who participated! Preserve Defend Restore Enjoy

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Scott Hein

Diablo Trails Challenge 2017


6/7/17 8:18 PM

Stephen Joseph


Tribute gifts and donations made in honor or in memory of loved ones between July 1–December 31, 2016 are listed below.

Thank you to all of our supporters. Your generosity preserves, defends and restores the mountain for all of us to enjoy! An asterick (*) denotes donors who make monthly tribute gifts.

Zachary Dietderich Laurie Abbey Our Parents Karen & Elias Eliadis Marvin Epstein, M.D.

Carol & Bob Lowitz

IN HONOR OF Seth Adams Charla Gabert & David Frane Cary Stevens & Allen Green Seth Adams & Aaron Chabot Paul Paton Stephen Beck Helen & Garrett Romain Geoff Bellenger Jennifer Russell Welby Bigelow Anonymous Ron Brown Steve Kaplan* Phillip & Beverly Winslow Jim Cartan David Ogden The Caulfield Family Brenda Kennelly The Conlan Family Rebecca P. Levitsky Susan Dalcamo KT Dalcamo 25th Anniversary of Vic & Cathleen de Ornelas Carol Fisher Diane Delu Ron & Rebecca Yee 50th Anniversary of Margie & Marty Diamond The Gerbers Dan Dietderich Laurie Abbey Kyle Dietderich Laurie Abbey


Dr. Bette Felton’s Special Birthday Herb & Marg Eder George Garcia Vivian Boyd Green Family Christmas Eric Green Sue & Phil Grover Tim Rich JoAnn & Michael Hansen Jenifer Fricke Cynthia Lewis Scott & Claudia Hein Steve & Annette Doherty Michael & Jane Larkin Sharon Walters 50th Wedding Anniversary of Mr. & Mrs. Houston Armin & Traude Janssen Chris Hovey Truitte Todd Greg Hunter Cynthia & David Bogolub Shellie Jacobson’s Birthday Erik Jacobson Aaron Kunz’s Birthday Joan Kunz Mrs. Don Laston Janet Laston Katzer Bob & Joan Marx Burt Bassler Amara Morrison


Janet & Elvoid Nelson

Brendon Armstrong

Barack & Michelle Obama

Anna, Greg, Liz & Bob Chance

David Ogden David Ogden Charla Gabert & David Frane Sue Ohanian

CA Technologies

Paul Baxter Carol Baxter Russell Guy

Ellen Peterson John & Elaine Spiecker Francesca Quoc

James P. Butler, Jr. Carolyn Butler Joan Caldwell

Myvan Quoc

Mary Louise & Bruce Wilson

Mikaela Risso Anonymous

Eugene Callahan

Bud & Jane Rotermund

Marianne Callahan*

Janine E. Senior

Raymond E. Camezon

Gretchen & Ethan Salter Trudy & Charles Salter Chris Schmidt

Sharon & Don Ritchey Ray Charles Terry J. Toranto


Paul Choisser

Julie Seelen

Katherine Dano-Luttjohann & Gary Luttjohann

Joan Kunz Ron Smith’s Birthday

Stacy D. Clark

The Ravitz Family

Arthur Richard Carter

Gilda Simonian Jim & Cathy Soule & Family Jane & Bill Collett

Howard Coates Betty Coates Gene S. Coburn, M.D.

Cindy Spring

Schuetze-Coburn Family

Anne H. Hoff

Mary Ann Connors Watts

Peg Steunenberg

Barbara J. Ageno

Brenda & David Davis

Edward T.(Ted) Cotter

Jeanne Thomas

Elizabeth Williams

Roger & Emily Ehm

Philip Cullen

Keegan, Logan & Trinity Tingey

Jennifer Cullen

Tanner & Amy Tingey

Jack L. Ditzel

Charlie Wills

Ami Ditzel

Elisabeth Wills

Mardi Duffield

Steve Yee

Kristine Caratan

Ron & Rebecca Yee

Louila Egle

Nancy Scott Mount Diablo Challenge 2016 Winners

Carol & Brad Hoy

Art Bonwell

Rob & Barbara Grant

George Phillips

Chris Lyall

Luman & Marilyn Hughes

Elvoid Nelson

Ted Sciacqua & Jackie Good Roger Epperson Richard Davis & Sandra Jones

Dr. Marvin Epstein Laurie Cohn Douglas Eisner Barry & Susan Gross Diane Hanson Janet & Pete Haro Carol Marenger Nagle

Harold N. Fogel, M.D. Donna Fogel Bill Fortner Patricia Draper Marian Fraser Bruce & Ellen Fraser Jim Gambill

Lucille Polachek

Gary Butler

Sharon & Don Ritchey

Nancy Cabell

Bud & Jane Rotermund

Chevron Louisville Business Center

Bonnie Willdorf Vivian Wing Bonnie & David Wixson

Christina Coleridge Rich & Kim Crandall

Phil & Pat Sapunor

Steven Curtis

Mary Anne & Hugh Winig

Steve Deckel Sheree Drake

Bob & Marcella Zorn

Kathryn Morimoto

David Evans

Cindy Preston

Meg Fox & Bill Van Laak

Joan Remmert

Mary Ann Miller

David Sena

Patricia Nielsen Norval “Val” Fairman Gail Faber Mary Fairman Connie Forslind Michele Lasagna Sharon Marocchi Betty Falck Babes in Boots Hiking Group Richard Falck Thomas & Melva Hansen Zebi & Vera Kerekes Carol & Bob Lowitz Alvin & Deborah Medvin James & Leanne Noe Donald & Carolyn Zerby

Robert Shorter Susan Gerson Anonymous Dan Guerra Jeanette Cibull Bonnie Hall & Judith Pierce Sarah Pierce Gus & Isabel Haro Joe & Susan Ryan* Jean P. Hauser Barbara Hauser Jackie Heath Anonymous Pearl Harbor Survivor Wm. Marlow Hicks Mary P. Hicks Thorne & Virginia Holmes Carolyn H. Payne

Pearl Harbor Survivor John J. Farley

Matt Karson

Eileen M. Farley

Brian Kruse

Jacquelyn Fava Anonymous Anna Louise Ferri

Laurie Anderson Margaret Kruse* George Krusi Jeanne Thomas

Lawrence E. Ferri

Save Mount Diablo

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Sheldon Steere

Upcoming Events

SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 9, 2017 4:00 pm–10:00 pm

Save Mount Diablo invites you to our 16th Annual Moonlight on the Mountain celebration at Mount Diablo’s China Wall benefiting our work to preserve, defend and restore Diablo’s wild lands.

Stephen Joseph

To purchase tickets, call 925-947-3535 or visit us online: http://bit.ly/moonlight2017

Stop by to see Stephen Joseph’s latest exhibition, “Tribute to Mount Diablo” Stephen Joseph Photographic Gallery • Open most Sundays from 12-4PM. • 100 Summit Ranch Road, Alamo, CA 94507 • www.StephenJosephPhoto.gallery Tributes continued... Jim Lane Scott & Claudia Hein Michele Lasagna & Gail Faber John Mercurio & Family Barbara Langlois Anonymous Ronald Barush & Cynthia Dahlin David & Janet Cain Ann Evans Elizabeth Fuchs Richard & Gayla Langlois Carolyn Mahoney Molly McIntyre Lynn Meltzer Walter Meyers Joan Renken

Kathleen Wimer Derek L. Liming Donna Liming Edward C. Macaulay Janet Laston Katzer James Magas Evelyn & Larry Magas Peggy & Leonard Mahler Barbara Mahler Henry Moises Louise Moises Janet Montes Terry & Glenn Gonzalez* Joseph Montoya Wayne & Silvia Montoya Elizabeth Nelson Theron Nelson

Judith Blanchford Pierce Phyllis Weston Ted Radke Scott & Claudia Hein Warren G. Reid Janet Laston Katzer Dr. Dan Reid Cavett Robert Paul C. Riley Lilia Riley Gary Rogers May & Larry Ball Ann Ryan Joe & Susan Ryan* Renato Simone Mark & Elena Costa Diablo Co-Ed Soccer League

Jessica Hanover Mary Ann Schott Tom Size Jeanette Hurwitz Brian Smith Shirley Holloway Beverly Zinn Joe G. Stadum Mary Alice Stadum Angelina Stein Susi Farmer

Vivian Sweigart

Nancy White

Terry & Glenn Gonzalez* Benito Tan

Laura Sweet Curtis S. Wood BJ & Veronika Kerekes

John Game

Barbara White

Howard Thomas

Bud & Angela Zanutto

Judy Canright

Jeanette Schulz

Susan J. Watson Anonymous Arne Westerback Steven Raymond

Michele Pitek Anna Saunders James S. Stewart Brett Stewart & Meagen Leary

 We have made every effort to accurately spell names. If your name or donation has not been recorded correctly or was mistakenly omitted, we offer our apologies. Please contact us so that we can amend our records by sending an email to Kristen Noe, Development Associate, at knoe@savemountdiablo.org. Preserve Defend Restore Enjoy

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6/9/17 12:40 PM

Non-Profit Organization U.S. Postage Paid Concord, CA Permit No. 525

1901 Olympic Blvd., Suite 320 Walnut Creek, CA 94596 Tel: (925) 947-3535 www.SaveMountDiablo.org

Thanks for being a friend. AS A FRIEND OF THE MOUNTAIN,

You help to preserve the Diablo wild lands for future generations. Whether you enjoy Mount Diablo when you are hiking, cycling, horseback riding, trail running, birding, painting, photographing, looking at it from your kitchen window, or taking in its breathtaking beauty at the end of a long commute home... This is your mountain. Become a member to protect it today.


Contact us for more information. Call or visit us online at: (925) 947-3535 | SaveMountDiablo.org

Enjoy a variety of perks

based on your annual membership tier: - Members-only gear; - Recognition in our annual report; - Our biannual Diablo Watch newsletter featuring stories about protected lands, habitat restoration, volunteer projects, and recreation opportunities; - Invitations to exclusive members-only events, hikes and tours of Mount Diablo; - Most importantly, your membership means you are committed to preserving the Diablo wild lands for future generations.

“My dream is that the whole of Mount Diablo, including its foothills, will remain open space… that the visual and natural integrity will be sustained.”

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Preserve natural lands through acquisition and cooperative efforts. Defend Mount Diablo and its foothills from threats of development through land use planning. Restore habitat prior to transfer to a public agency for permanent preservation and public use. Enjoy Diablo’s parks through events and recreational opportunities.

Why We Care

To p r e s e r v e M o u nt D i a b l o’s peaks, surrounding foothills, and watersheds through land acquisition and preservation strategies designed to protect the mountain’s natural beauty, biological diversity, and historic and agricultural heritage; enhance our area’s quality of life; and provide recreational opportunities consistent with the protection of natural resources.

What We Do

Our Mission

- Dr. Mary L. Bowerman This is our home. Preserving natural land forever means safeguarding our quality of life, including our air, water, and views. Only half of Mount Diablo has been preserved. The other half of the mountain, over 70,000 acres, is privately owned and still threatened by development. That means risking the loss of wildlife corridors, ecosystems and recreational opportunities.

6/7/17 8:19 PM