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Old Baldy, Canada | photo by Cameron Schaus

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   Conservation Issues of the Ventana Chapter | monterey county

Monterey Peninsula Regional Park District to Purchase 860 Acres
of Monterey Pine Forest from Pebble Beach Company

December 2014
Monterey Harbor from Pine TrailMonterey harbor from Pine Trail in Jacks Peak Park. (Photograph: Mary Pendlay)

After nearly a year of discussion and negotiation, the Monterey Peninsula Regional Park District Board of Directors (the Board) voted to purchase from the Pebble Beach Company (PBC) an 860-acre tract of Monterey Pine forest contiguous to Jacks Peak Park known as the Aguajito property. The tract will be transferred to the MPRPD immediately upon closing of the sale. To facilitate the purchase, the Board authorized MPRPD General Manager Rafael Payan to execute and sign all documents necessary to complete the transaction.

The total price for the property is $7.45 million, payable in installments of 1.5M annually, to and including December 31, 2019. Money for the purchase will be drawn from Proposition 117 funds (The Habitat Conservation Fund). No interest will be charged on the loan by PBC. Other than minor staff/administrative costs, no local tax dollars have been used for the purchase, and no Park District programs will suffer.

Chapter members were ecstatic when the Board also agreed to designate all or part of the new parkland in honor of long time Sierra Club member Joyce Stevens. Joyce, an architect by profession, has been a stalwart defender of parkland and wildlife through her work, activism and community involvement.

In addition to the conservation value of this purchase, the Aguajito property also has a historical context. The original 3,323 acre Rancho Aguajito was acquired by David Jacks, whose heirs sold it for development in 1909. In 1960, what is now PBC acquired about 1500 Aguajito undeveloped acres, and later sold a 475-acre section to Monterey County. In 1977, this section, combined with a 55-acre gift from the Dr. Talcott Bates family became Jacks Peak Park. Subsequent additions have raised the park's acreage to approximately 950 acres. Combining the Jacks Peak Park acreage and the Park District's Aguajito purchase, the County and the MPRPD have created, at more than 1800 acres, the largest contiguous tract of Monterey Pine Forest in the world.

Senior MPRPD Board member, John Dalessio had previously revealed that he and County representatives have held discussions concerning MPRPD acquiring Jacks Peak Park from the County. The intent would be to create a passive recreation park in the heart of the Monterey Peninsula, and to permanently protect the home of the Monterey Pine Forest, one of the world's most commercially important trees. Dalessio believes that the County is amiable to this plan, and he anticipates that these discussions will accelerate, now that the Aguajito purchase has been completed.


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