California’s historic Dean Witter ranch protected for conservation, free public access

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GLEN OAK, California.– After a two and a half year effort and with the support of private donors, volunteers, state agencies, partner organizations and elected leaders, The Wildlands Conservancy, a California nonprofit, has secured the Lone 29,600 acre Pine Ranch – later known as the Eel River Canyon Reservation.

The property features fantastic geology, 18 miles of riverbanks, carbon sequestering forests, Roosevelt elk herds and extensive wetlands.

Today’s acquisition includes 21,600 acres acquired by TWC and approximately 8,000 acres acquired by national non-profit association The Conservation Fund, in a unique and collaborative conservation victory.

“This acquisition continues our focused efforts to protect the National Wild and Scenic Eel River, with a vision of free public access along the future Great Redwood Trail.” said David Myers, President of The Wildlands Conservancy, “We are grateful to the Witter family for entrusting us with their legacy and for the support of our partners in making this acquisition. “

Purchased during World War II by renowned California financial broker Dean Witter, the land has been maintained by the Witter family ever since, leaving a legacy that will now be kept permanently and open to the public for passive recreation.

“Our family is incredibly grateful to pass this precious property on to The Wildlands Conservancy,” said Brooks Witter, who represents the family. “With each step of this process, we became more and more confident in their vision and their ability to preserve this place for future generations. It is an honor to know that the Solitary Pine will play a key role in protecting the vitality and health of the entire watershed.

The Conservation Fund, a national leader in land conservation, is playing a central role in the project, acquiring 8,086 acres of the reserve. The Fund will serve as the interim holder of this portion of the property for up to three years, while the final acquisition funds are sought by the Conservancy.

“The Lone Pine Ranch is one of California’s gems, and today’s victory is a critical step in protecting its recreational resources, ecological significance and the stunning beauty of its landscapes,” said said Steve Hobbs, California State Director at the Conservation Fund. “Our partial acquisition of Lone Pine Ranch is an exciting addition to the Conservation Fund’s land conservation portfolio in California and we are honored to be a part of it.”

Generous support from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation made this acquisition a reality, as did funding from the California State Coastal Conservancy and the Wildlife Conservation Board.

The Center for Biological Diversity provided key funds and support throughout the campaign and has been a tireless advocate for California’s ecological diversity. The Center’s contribution used funds designated in a recent settlement with Placer Ranch, Inc. for the permanent protection of biologically important lands.

“Protecting 30,000 acres in the heart of the Eel River corridor is one of the most significant conservation actions in recent California history,” said Peter Galvin, co-founder and director of programs for the Center. “This historic conservation purchase will provide permanent protection to one of the wildest and most scenic river reaches in the western United States. The “Grand Canyon of the Eel River” is home to dozens of endangered species and rare wildlife. The heroic and visionary efforts of the Wildlands Conservancy to restore the Eel River and the California Wildlands will be enjoyed by generations to come.

Resolute champion of the Eel River, California State Senator Mike McGuire (D-Healdsburg) catalyzed the creation of a Great Redwoods Trail, following the route of the abandoned Northwestern Pacific Railroad for 320 miles and connecting the bays of San Francisco and Humboldt. The trail will act as a gateway to the scenic countryside and rugged hinterland of the Eel and Russian River watersheds.

“The Eel River Canyon is unlike any other place in the west, and it will be the crown jewel of the Great Redwood Trail,” said Senator Mike McGuire. “The $ 10 million we were able to raise this year helped The Wildlands Conservancy acquire this spectacular piece of land, Lone Pine Ranch. This amazing property will soon open its doors to the public and feature a breathtaking twelve mile trail along the Eel River with a total of 18 miles of shoreline. We couldn’t be more thrilled.

In 2019, The Wildlands Conservancy used private donations to purchase the first 3,000 acres of the Eel River Canyon Reserve facing 3.5 miles from the Eel River. This acquisition secured a two-year option to purchase the remaining 26,600 acres for $ 25 million, which is being completed in four separate transactions.

The acquisition of the Eel River Canyon reserve is part of the Eel River Emerald Necklace Conservation Project, which connects a system of reserves spanning the Grand Canyon from the eel to the estuary. The reserve is a day of paddling downstream from The Wildlands Conservancy’s Spyrock Reserve, which has five miles of eel frontage and is located 80 miles upstream of the Eel River Estuary Reserve from Conservancy, where the river meets the Pacific Ocean.

The Wildlands Conservancy owns and operates California’s largest non-profit nature reserve system, including the 93,000-acre Wind Wolf Preserve in Kern County, the largest non-profit reserve on the West Coast. . Open to the public free of charge, these reserves offer free hiking, camping and access to nature. The Wildlands Conservancy recently led the campaign to have the land it previously donated to the United States Department of the Interior to be designated a 1.6 million acre Mojave Trails National Monument, one of the largest national monuments in the 48 Lower states.

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