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John Muir Land Trust Announces Campaign to Save Painted Rock

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The Goal is to Create a 505-Acre Community Open Space in Lamorinda

John Muir Land Trust (JMLT, jmlt.org)
announces The Campaign To Save Painted Rock, an effort to acquire and
permanently preserve the highly visible 84-acre hill located between
Lafayette and Moraga, CA. "The full impact of this campaign extends
beyond these 84 acres, and its significance to the community reaches far
beyond its most visible feature—the boulders painted with messages by
students near the intersection of Moraga Road and Rheem Boulevard," says
Linus Eukel, Executive Director of John Muir Land Trust. If acquired,
the Painted Rock property will anchor a large contiguous 505-acre public
open space atop these hills that would be a stunning new recreational
resource for the community and a protected haven for wildlife. JMLT must
raise the remaining $1.0 million toward the total $2.0 million goal by
May 31, 2019.

"Seen daily by thousands of residents, Painted Rock is one of the most
visible natural landscapes in our area. This campaign matters greatly to
our community. The hills around us provide a bucolic buffer for mind and
spirit, and protecting these lands preserves the specialness of this
place we call home," says Teresa Onoda, Vice Mayor, Town of Moraga.

Painted Rock is next in the Moraga Hills Campaign, a series of planned
acquisitions by John Muir Land Trust to add significant new protected
open space to the communities of Lafayette, Moraga, and Orinda. JMLT
completed its first acquisition, 604-acre Carr Ranch, in November, 2016.
An outpouring of donations from the community—including $4.5 million
from East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD)—provided the $7 million
needed to permanently protect Carr Ranch for clean water and wildlife,
and to open it for public recreation.

A Big Vision

Painted Rock has been under pressure for commercial and housing
development for decades; and two new residential developments are in
progress on adjacent properties: Palos Colorados is adding 123 new
houses and Rancho Laguna II is adding 27 new houses. Concerned citizens
and the Town of Moraga arranged that instead of building a private golf
course, the developers would preserve two parcels—of 310 acres and 111
acres—to be set aside as natural habitat and open space for public
enjoyment. These parcels will be protected by conservation easements
preventing any future development. The 84 acres of Painted Rock and its
935-foot summit dominate this landscape.

If protected, Painted Rock will anchor a new community resource totaling
505 beautiful acres—open to the public with miles of multi-use trails,
ponds, streams, windswept grasslands, and unparalleled views of Mount
Diablo and the rolling hills of central Contra Costa. All of this is
within a few-minutes-walk of homes in the heart of Lamorinda. "Other
than cattle ranchers who have grazed herds on these hills for decades,
few people—even long-time residents who drive by daily on busy streets
below—have experienced this beautiful landscape or enjoyed its
remarkable vistas," notes Eukel.

Saving Painted Rock—Why It Matters

If the campaign succeeds, outdoor enthusiasts of all ages will be able
to explore unique elevated trails and viewpoints that complement the
delightful low-lying trails throughout the region. The ridgeline along
Painted Rock is among the highest points of elevation in the area—just
waiting for hikers, cyclists, runners, dog walkers, bird watchers, and
nature-lovers to experience for the first time its sweeping views of
Mount Diablo, Las Trampas Regional Wilderness, and notable peaks and
valleys in all directions. These invigorating new trails and views will
be easily accessed from the many existing trails nearby.

Keeping natural areas intact is essential, as fragmented habitat is one
of the greatest threats to wildlife. The 84 acres of Painted Rock
include annual and perennial grasslands, coastal scrub, and seep and
spring wetlands. Hawks soar overhead, and the area offers suitable
habitat for the threatened Alameda whipsnake. Productive springs and
stock ponds have the potential to harbor special-status species such as
the threatened California red-legged frog. Today these springs support
wetland-associated vegetation such as arroyo willow trees and a variety
of hydrophytic grasses and herbs.

A tradition dating back decades makes the property as iconic as any in a
small city or town. Local students whitewash the boulders that face the
streets below, painting memorable messages in the dead of night. While
not exactly encouraging it, residents have embraced this tradition as a
local rite of passage. Few have looked up at a freshly painted
homecoming slogan without a smile and a fond memory of times past.

Imminent Threat

There is enormous development pressure on precious natural lands due to
the Bay Area's sizzling economy and surging housing market. Painted Rock
was once offered for sale as a residential development site for $15
million. Under existing regulations, Moraga has the potential for up to
1,200 additional residences—an increase of 21%. These pressures will
intensify in the years ahead.

Looking Ahead

"The next few decades are critical for shaping the Bay Area landscape.
Decisions we make today have permanent and lasting consequences for the
world that our children and grandchildren will inherit," says Eukel.
Generous JMLT supporters have made possible a string of successes from
stunning Fernandez Ranch in the north to Carr Ranch, the first in a
series of acquisitions in Lamorinda. Adds Eukel, "This landowner is
committed to conservation and is generously offering the Painted Rock
property to John Muir Land Trust. This is an extraordinary one-time
opportunity. The community came together to protect Carr Ranch, and we
can do it again."

About The Moraga Hills Campaign

The Moraga Hills Campaign is the latest phase of John Muir Land Trust's
decades-long effort to protect the most threatened and important
properties in the East Bay Hills—a landscape that defines our region's
rich natural heritage. The campaign seeks to protect a half-dozen
special places totaling hundreds of acres in Lamorinda that will provide
critical wildlife corridors, protect native species, preserve clean
drinking water, and offer residents spectacular opportunities to
experience wide-open natural spaces.

About John Muir Land Trust

John Muir Land Trust (JMLT) protects and cares for open space, ranches,
farms, parkland and shoreline in Contra Costa and Alameda Counties. In a
generation, John Muir Land Trust has become one of the leading forces
for conservation in Northern California. With 3,100 acres protected,
many beautiful places in the East Bay are permanently preserved for
recreation, wildlife habitat and spectacular scenic views. JMLT believes
that the vitality of our open spaces is essential to the health of our
earth, air, water, native plants and animals — and all of us.

jmlt.org

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