By BRETT WILKISON
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Sonoma County’s Board of Supervisors Tuesday gave a green-light to a large conservation deal in the central Mayacamas Mountains east of Cloverdale and south of Geysers Road.
Up to $1.6 million in county open space funds, nearly $180,000 from The Nature Conservancy, the national land trust, and $250,000 in pending state grant funds will go toward securing a conservation easement on 2,715 acres owned by former Major League baseball player Ryan Klesko and Richard Scott Casarotti. The total estimated easement purchase price is $1.76 million.
The deal does not acquire the property for the public but requires the owners to keep it in open space and not divide it.
The property is a rugged and sensitive chunk of wildlife habitat and watershed lands overlooking Alexander Valley. Oak woodlands and Big and Little Sulfur creeks, which offer habitat for threatened steelhead populations, are on the property. It currently is used as ranchland and for recreation, including hunting, by the owners.
The deal is to close escrow in one or two phases depending on the state grant application. It is the open space district’s largest project in the Mayacamas range, which stretches along the eastern border of the county.
“It’s wonderful that this is going to be protected forever,” said Supervisor Mike McGuire, who represents the north county and the area where the newly protected property sits.