County Eyes Open Space Opportunity in Ross Valley

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Courtesy of Marin County

Bald Hill in the Ross Valley of Marin County is not part of the Bald Hill Open Space Preserve. Since the establishment of the reserve in 1994, adjoining land has gradually been added as public open space, but the hilltop has remained privately owned.

The protection and preservation of Bald Hill has been identified as a high priority by local governments, grassroots environmental groups and residents since 1976. Now the naming quirk could be fixed. After decades of attempted public purchases, there is a draft agreement between Marin County and the nonprofit Marin Open Space Trust (MOST) to make Bald Hill an integral part of the reservation.

On October 11, Marin County Parks will petition the Marin County Open Space District Board of Directors to authorize a purchase and sale agreement with MOST and other requirements. The parks would use $850,000 of the County Open Space District’s acquisition budget for the purchase, a move that would not affect the county’s general fund.

The land, in the shadow of Mount Tamalpais, would increase the area of ​​the reserve from 46 to 106 (130%) if the deal is approved.

“I think most people in Ross Valley thought it was already protected public land,” said Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Katie Rice, who represents neighboring District 2 residents. “In fact, this ingrained part of Ross Valley’s identity has been vulnerable to development throughout time.If approved, the acquisition would fulfill a decades-old community and county goal of protecting this priceless landscape and prevent development on its pristine hillsides.And we would obtain the property at a greatly reduced price thanks to the generous support of donors.

The private plots of Bald Hill, just south of the boundary of the existing reservation, include the 1,141-foot treeless summit, which provides an iconic backdrop for the towns of Ross, San Anselmo and Fairfax. The parcels are within the town of Ross and are adjacent to the city limits of San Anselmo and Marin Water lands to the west. Worn Springs and Upper Road West Fire Roads cross the plots. If the sale goes through, the two parcels – about 60 acres in all – would be added to the existing reserve which provides opportunities for hiking and equestrian recreation.

Jonathan Braun, MOST board member spearheading the plot acquisition effort, said MOST had received strong support from Ross City Council member Elizabeth Robbins, resident of Ross Dan Kalafatas, the Tamalpais Conservation Club and many conservation-minded people.

“Bald Hill is a beloved place,” Braun said. “This is made possible by a lot of generosity and hard work from community members and MOST, and we are grateful to reach this point and present it to Open Space District. MOST is thrilled to have the opportunity to protect it.

The last time Bald Hill Preserve was expanded was in 2015 when the county purchased the 16.2-acre Sky Ranch. This purchase also featured MOST as a liaison between the county and the private owners. It connected the reservation to over 100,000 acres of additional public land and hundreds of miles of public trails extending west to Point Reyes and south to the Marin Headlands.

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