The Conservation Buyer Program will generate important revenue for Save Mount Diablo to invest in protecting and preserving more land in the Diablo Wilderness.
Save Mount Diablo envisions a permanently protected natural reserve in Contra Costa County, with the peak of Mount Diablo at its heart. We are working to secure large portions of this habitat to be preserved as park lands, and our vision also includes private lands shielded by conservation easements.
We endeavor to keep free from development the Mount Diablo core area, and to preserve specific areas that have major wildlife, recreational, scenic and scientific values.
To accomplish our vision, we use two main land preservation tools as part of our newly expanded Conservation Buyer Program. First, as we have done for many years, we sell highly strategic land to governmental partners to become part of a public park system and utilize the revenue to protect more property. Much of the land Save Mount Diablo has purchased over the years is now incorporated into Mount Diablo State Park or the East Bay Regional Park District.
Second, we will now sell some lands to private buyers subject to conservation easements, which we will hold, and utilize the revenue to acquire more property or conservation easements. This method allows us to protect properties with important habitat that may not be well suited additions to a park or preserve because of their size or location. Several of the proposed easements are on parcels with existing houses.
A conservation easement is a voluntary legal agreement between a landowner and a qualified organization, such as a land trust, to protect the natural or cultural resources on that land forever. In our area, development threatens unique habitat, creates a huge barrier to the movement of wildlife and also depletes essential components of the ecosystem, such as water.
The conservation easements will protect the resources we purchased the property to save and allow the landowner to live in and maintain their homes, as they normally would. We work with the landowner to reach a set of permanent agreements that give them the flexibility they need within a small portion of the property, usually an acre or less, while conserving the habitat over the vast majority of the property.
The agreement limits some of the landowners’ rights on the property in order to protect habitat and wildlife. The conservation easements we enter into, for example, prohibit subdividing property for additional homes, protect creeks including Marsh Creek, and protect habitat such as the oak woodlands that are so vital in the area where we work. Some of them may reserve trail and access easements. We work with property owners to periodically monitor the terms of the conservation easement and enjoy with them the satisfaction of having permanently protected the land they love.
We work with realtors and real estate firms familiar with conservation land transactions and conservation easements in order to help us find private buyers looking for unique lands to have a home nestled amidst Mount Diablo’s beautiful natural areas. The realtors we work with share SMD’s vision for permanent protection of these lands and support our efforts to generate revenue to protect additional properties.
Property sales to a private buyer are new for SMD and will be a very important tool to expand our ability to protect more land in the Diablo Wilderness for years to come. Not only will these future landowners live in the quiet and natural splendor of Mount Diablo, but they will also be supporting SMD’s time sensitive land conservation mission.
Visit SaveMountDiablo.org to learn more about our Conservation Buyer Program and view current property listings.