For Immediate Release: 1/4/2024
Sonoma Developmental Center’s Open Space Lands Transferred to California State Parks
ELDRIDGE, Calif.— California State Parks today announced the transfer of jurisdiction of approximately 650 acres of Sonoma Developmental Center’s (SDC) open space property to State Parks. SDC’s open space area is connected to Jack London State Historic Park (SHP). Sharing a common boundary, watershed, critical wildlife corridor, connecting trails, and view shed, the property is an integral part of the region’s biodiversity and recreational opportunities.
The transfer of SDC lands to State Parks is the largest addition to state park lands in Sonoma County since 2010. These lands will provide a connection from Jack London SHP to Sonoma County Regional Park, maintaining a critical regional wildlife linkage connecting the Marin Coast to Blue Ridge and Lake Berryessa. The property includes high-quality oak woodlands, mixed evergreen forests, coast redwood and riparian forests, grasslands, and wetlands.
“California State Parks looks forward to stewarding this property, working through the planning process with the public, and advancing public outdoor access to more Californians,” said California State Parks Director Armando Quintero. “By transferring these open space lands to the State Park System, we are conserving California’s critical biodiversity and helping ensure that future generations will be able to enjoy these protected lands.”
“Bringing this land into State Parks is a big win for the environment, outdoor recreation and local communities,” said California Natural Resources Secretary Wade Crowfoot. “It protects an important wildlife corridor, safeguards diverse local ecosystems, and will expand opportunities for local residents and visitors to hike and enjoy the outdoors. Expanding the state park in this way is one more creative step toward meeting our 30x30 commitment to conserve 30 percent of our lands across California by 2030. I’m very excited to see this milestone reached.”
“We made a promise to the community at the beginning of the transition process that the vast majority of Developmental Center land would be protected forever. And, today, Senator Dodd and I are keeping this promise with this historic transfer of land,” said Senate President Designee Mike McGuire. “80% of the former SDC campus will now be protected forever and it’s a big win for the Valley and our County. We’re grateful for the partnership with the team from State Parks and are excited to see this milestone achieved.”
“This is a huge win for preserving and stewarding this incredible open space, and it’s a milestone Senator McGuire and I have been working to make a reality for years,” said Senator Bill Dodd. “I’m grateful for State Parks for stepping up, and I couldn’t be more excited to see local partnerships develop and all the benefits that will come for our environment and outdoor recreation in the Valley.”
“Transitioning this land to State Parks as protected open space has been a longtime goal of Sonoma Valley residents and will expand access to the outdoors while simultaneously protecting our local ecosystems,” said Assemblymember Damon Connolly. “Through increasing public access to the open space and investing in trail maintenance and wildfire management, this is a major win for our community.”
State Parks will operate the open space lands in an interim state until a general plan amendment process is conducted with public input. During this interim state, the public may expect the following:
- Continued and enhanced public access to the lands for recreational purposes. Currently, the land is accessible on the west side. Once additional trail and maintenance signs are installed, the east side will be open to the public.
- Vegetation and wildfire management.
- Trails maintenance and management.
- Installation of informational/interpretive/wayfinding signs and portable restrooms.
- Installation and service of garbage cans.
State Parks will proceed with the transition by developing and initiating public messaging, developing service agreements, and engaging and planning with partners and the community.
A general plan amendment process will be conducted to formally add and incorporate the open space lands into Jack London SHP. This comprehensive public process will involve the following:
- Community and stakeholder engagement.
- Tribal consultation.
- Creation of management units.
- Potential development of recreational facilities.
- Environmental Impact Report.
State Parks will keep the public apprised of public engagement opportunities.
Sonoma Development Center’s open space is connected to Jack London State Historic Park. Photos from California State Parks.
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California State Parks provides for the health, inspiration and education of the people of California by helping to preserve the state’s extraordinary biological diversity, protecting its most valued natural and cultural resources, and creating opportunities for high quality outdoor recreation.