Sonoma Co. property stays unspoiled

October 9, 2008 7:25:29 PM PDT
In Sonoma County, people are celebrating a decision to keep a stretch of California coastline as it has always been. On Thursday, the Sonoma land trust announced an agreement to purchase 5,600 acres in the watershed above Jenner.

In Jenner along the Northern California coast, the subject of the biggest news in a long time looked and sounded pretty much the same as it has for eons -- a stunning view of coastal prairie and blowing wind.

It's an old ranch on the Jenner Headlands that is about to become public domain. The non-profit Sonoma Land Trust has agreed to buy 5,600 acres for $36 million and that may eventually become a state park.

"The significance is an opportunity we can't allow to pass by," said Amy Chestnut from Sonoma Land Trust.

Chestnut spent close to four years on this deal, along with County Supervisors, the Coastal Commission and Open Space District.

Much of the money comes from a county sales tax that generates $20 million a year for just this kind of purchase.

"Philosophically, this is about the future, it's not right now," said Andrea Mackenzie from the Sonoma County Open Space District.

The significance of this sale goes beyond its size. It's also about biodiversity and terrain. Not just coastal prairie, but Redwood forests.

"That tree was marked to be cut, to be harvested along with a number of other trees," said David Ferreira.

"And now?" asked ABC7's Wayne Freedman.

"And now the blue line will be painted out," said Ferreira.

Ferreira is one of three major landowners who agreed to make this sale. Originally, there had been talk of developing the headlands land with houses, or even a golf course. But David likes this outcome; he's even philosophical about it.

"I'm not really giving it up because when it becomes public land, I can still use it. I won't have the pride of ownership, but I will have the pride of legacy," said Ferreira.

And Northern California now has a large, unregimented historic chunk of geographical heritage, preserved in one piece, forever.