Letter from the Executive Director
Our hearts sing out gratitude to all of you who helped us successfully protect more of the precious remaining natural places of the Mount Diablo area and connect our community to them this past fiscal year (which was a transition fiscal year from January 1, 2018 to March 31, 2019, as we move to an April–March fiscal year going forward).
This past fiscal year, you helped us win protection for more than 1,200 acres in Antioch’s beautiful and ecologically significant Sand Creek Area next to Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve. After years of work, we achieved a huge victory last summer when the Antioch City Council adopted complementary initiatives, which we helped lead with the community coalition we built, thereby protecting more than 1,200 acres of hills, creek, woodland, and rare wildlife habitat in south Antioch, west of Deer Valley Road. Developers are now trying to undo those hard-won protections through litigation, and your support has enabled us to join that fight to keep that land protected for the benefit of all.
In the 2018–2019 fiscal year, your support helped us address “nature deficit disorder” in our young, wired generations through our Conservation Collaboration Agreement program with local schools and businesses. We completed Conservation Collaboration Agreements with various schools this past fiscal year: California State University–East Bay, Concord Campus; De La Salle High School; Pittsburg High School; Campolindo High School; and Joaquin Moraga Intermediate School.
In this program, we gave the students, educators, and participating businesses the critical facts and figures about land conservation in our area. We also took the participants out to our conserved lands for meaningful experiences that developed a direct relationship between them and nature through environmental service projects, interpretive nature hikes, and contemplative solos in nature.
This past fiscal year, your support enabled us to steward thousands of acres rich in conservation values. We have about 500 dedicated volunteers who support our staff team. Last year, our stewardship volunteers donated well over 4,000 work hours to our stewardship of the thousands of acres in our care. We only have two full-time stewardship staff, and our important stewardship work, like planting native trees, removing invasive species, and fire prevention work, would simply not be possible without these incredible volunteers who support our talented but limited staff.
Our annual Discover Diablo free public education hiking series offered 27 well-attended hikes last year, connecting hundreds of people in our community to the beautiful Mount Diablo natural area.
Thank you for helping us protect more of the remaining natural places of the Mount Diablo area and connect our community to them so we can all be transformed for the better.
Edward Sortwell Clement, Jr.
Board of Directors
Effective April 1, 2019
Malcolm Sproul, President
Burt Bassler, Treasurer
Claudia Hein, Secretary
Land Conservation Director
Director of Annual Giving & Events
Land Programs Director
Finance & Administration Director
Stewardship & Outreach Associate
Juan Pablo Galván
Land Use Manager
Development Administrative Assistant
General Office Manager
Accounting & Administration Associate
Land Stewardship Associate
Protecting Diablo’s Wild Lands
Mapping Our Area of Impact
This map shows the expansion of protected lands on Mount Diablo from 6,788 acres in 1971, when Save Mount Diablo was founded, to over 110,000 acres that have been protected by Save Mount Diablo and our great partners.
Save Mount Diablo’s area of interest is bounded by I-680 to the west, I-580 to the south, Carquinez Strait and Suisun Bay to the north, and the Delta to the east. Save Mount Diablo continues to monitor development projects proposed in the area, focusing on connecting and expanding new and existing parks and preserves while working with our allies to preserve, protect, restore, and promote enjoyment of these natural lands.
Scaling Up Stewardship & Building a Strong Foundation for Land Acquisition
2018 was a year of enhancing how we manage our properties while continuing long-term, complex negotiations to protect several very high-priority areas of land.
For decades, Save Mount Diablo was able to buy properties and then quickly transfer them to a public park agency.
That model kept our land management responsibilities very limited, and the projects we undertook were mainly focused on trash removal, fire abatement, and some restoration work. About a decade ago, the transfer time started to slow down. In part, the slowdown in transfer time was because California State Parks stopped acquiring new land in order to focus on maintaining the parks it already owned.
It has been more than 13 years since a property was added to Mount Diablo State Park, something we have been working diligently to change. However, as our ambitions about preserving the Diablo wild lands grew, we began to buy more land farther away from existing parks with a strategy to connect them in the future.
As a result of the slowdown in property transfers, we had to step up our long-term stewardship efforts. Scaling up our land management operations over the last several years has allowed us to deepen opportunities for people to get involved with caring for our properties and enjoying their beauty. We now oversee multi-year restoration projects, an all-star stewardship volunteer pool, a year-round free public hike program, research in action, a conservation-based grazing program, and a field station at Curry Canyon Ranch.
We hired two caretakers who now live at our Wright Canyon property and support all of our stewardship obligations. This step enabled us to move forward with plans to transform the house at Curry Canyon Ranch into the Curry Canyon Ranch field station—a hub for researchers, our partners, and our supporters to connect more closely with and deepen our understanding of Mount Diablo. Multi-year research projects are underway at Curry Canyon that are focused on the identification and behavior of insect populations in Curry Creek. And on dry land, we began the early stages of a streamflow monitoring program.
We continue to negotiate complex property transactions, the fruits of which will be brought to bear in the coming year. Our partners, especially the East Contra Costa County Habitat Conservancy and East Bay Regional Park District, have continued the work to encircle the Marsh Creek and Morgan Territory areas in open space and place critical protections over essential habitat corridors. We meet with landowners and developers alike to push for high-quality mitigation associated with new developments. We coordinate closely with our partners on strategic additions to the overall network of preserved lands on and around Mount Diablo.
As part of our Forever Wild Capital Campaign, we are working to establish a Land Acquisition Opportunity Fund to ensure we are ready and able to act on a transaction quickly.
For now, we continue to build up a strong foundation for future land conservation.
Land Use Planning & Advocacy
LAND USE PLANNING
As development heats up, so do we. We defended Mount Diablo and its foothills by mo