A gift for the East Bay: EBMUD and John Muir Land Trust formalize partnership to save Carr Ranch

Unique collaboration permanently protects watershed land

The East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD) and John Muir Land Trust (JMLT) announced a partnership today that saves 604-acres of gorgeous Lamorinda land for future generations.

The EBMUD Board of Directors voted unanimously and enthusiastically today to approve $4,469,600 to purchase the Carr Ranch property. The vote formalizes a partnership between EBMUD and JMLT to acquire the 604-acre cattle ranch from the Carr family, which has owned the land for over a century. Adjacent to the Town of Moraga and surrounded on three sides by EBMUD-owned lands within the Upper San Leandro watershed, Carr Ranch will be permanently preserved as watershed land, essential wildlife habitat and open space for public enjoyment.

“EBMUD’s commitment to protect the environment for future generations is at the core of our mission,” said Richard Sykes, Director of Natural Resources for EBMUD. “Nothing we do is more important than protecting the public’s access to drinking water — a limited and precious resource in California. Carr Ranch is a vital addition to the watershed lands we own and manage.”

John Muir Land Trust and EBMUD have agreed to protect the property in perpetuity, with EBMUD holding title and JMLT providing public access and recreation. EBMUD’s role will be to preserve the watershed land, protect wildlife habitat, maintain open spaces and natural scenery, and preserve the historical ranching heritage. JMLT will manage permanent public access to Carr Ranch for light recreation such as hiking, wildlife viewing, dog walking and equestrian activities.

“We couldn’t have hoped for an outcome that better serves the public’s need for permanent protection and access to this spectacular natural landscape,” said Linus Eukel, Executive Director of John Muir Land Trust. “Carr Ranch offers spectacular views and clean drinking water that will benefit East Bay families for generations to come. And of course, permanently preserving critical wildlife habitat means that current residents — including threatened and endangered species — will benefit as well.”

Carr Ranch is an essential addition to the watershed lands owned by EBMUD that drain into the Upper San Leandro Reservoir, and a vital connection point to the Las Trampas Regional Wilderness nearby.

“EBMUD is the perfect partner,” said Eukel. “No organization in Northern California could be more entrusted with the permanent stewardship of this watershed property than EBMUD. No one has more experience or a stronger mandate to preserve and protect the natural character of the refuge lands it owns.” EBMUD manages 58,000 acres of habitat in the East Bay and Sierra foothills.

The undeveloped Carr Ranch property provides habitat for endangered reptiles and amphibians — and for large animals such as deer, American badger, golden eagle, and mountain lion. Its creeks and streams drain into the Upper San Leandro Reservoir – a drinking water supply for tens of thousands of East Bay families.  Carr Ranch exemplifies the best of Contra Costa landscapes, an area known for beautiful scenery. Terrain varies from hillsides and ridge tops to meadows and bottomlands and features coastal live oak, riparian woodlands, coastal scrub and annual grasses.

“We want to recognize and thank the Carr family for their careful stewardship of this land for generations, and for moving through a process that allows conservation instead of development,” said EBMUD Board member Marguerite Young, who represents the area.

Plans for opening public access are in development.

“Permanent preservation of Carr Ranch would not have happened without John Muir Land Trust,” said Sykes. “But for JMLT, this land would eventually have been lost to development. And for EBMUD, this is a rare opportunity to protect drinking water right here in the East Bay.”

EBMUD and JMLT along with other stakeholders look forward to officially celebrating the partnership at a signing ceremony at Carr Ranch in January 2017.