Solano County

Land Trust establishes endowment

By From page A1 | May 30, 2014

FAIRFIELD — Solano Land Trust has succeeded in setting aside $2 million to help it care for its 1,500-acre Rockville Trails Preserve.

That $2 million endowment will generate about $80,000 annually in interest for the open-space area, Solano Land Trust Executive Director Nicole Byrd said. The Land Trust will use the money for such things as caring for trails and fences and paying property tax, she said.

“It is a huge deal in terms of helping us be able to generate interest long-term to be able to steward the property,” she said.

The endowment is not enough to open Rockville Trails Preserve to the public as a park, she said. But it’s a start, she said.

Rockville Trails Preserve is located in the hills above Suisun and Green valleys across Rockville Road from the northern edge of Fairfield’s Rockville Hills Park. It includes oak-sprinkled hills and meadows, with viewpoints overlooking the farmland below.

The Solano Land Trust raised $13.5 million to buy it in 2012 from a developer that had planned to build homes there. From the beginning of the fundraising drive, the Solano Land Trust stated its intention of establishing a $2 million endowment. But it was still $800,000 short when the deal closed escrow.

The endowment includes $1.38 million from Fairfield’s North Cordelia Community Facilities District 2, Byrd said. Fairfield established the assessment district in 1989 in the wake of a lawsuit settlement over the city’s Green Valley developments. It pays to preserve open space in the Green Valley area.

Another $364,000 comes from the Green Valley Open Space Maintenance District. Solano County established the assessment district in 1990 in the rural part of Green Valley at the request of residents.

The remaining $250,000 for the endowment came from donations.

People are able to explore Rockville Trails Preserve only during docent-led hikes. The Land Trust wants to turn the open space area into a park.

An initial step is establishing a parking lot. The Solano Land Trust board of directors will look at the issue at future meetings, having delayed it from its May 21 meeting.

Byrd said the entrance to the parking area will be from Rockville Road near the property’s cattle corral. A study showed this is the safest place for the turn into the preserve, she said.

To open the open space to the public as a park, the Land Trust needs to find money for the parking lot, restrooms, rangers and other expenses.

“We need partners to make that happen,” Byrd said. “That’s all part of what we’re trying to figure out. The goal is to open it at least on weekends. That’s what we’re aiming for. We need partners and we need funds.”

The Land Trust opened its 1,039-acre Lynch Canyon property in the hills between Fairfield and Vallejo three days a week by teaming up with Solano County. The county provides rangers through its park system.

But the Land Trust has been unable to open up the nearby King and Swett ranches covering 3,956 acres. People can visit those areas only for docent-led outings.

The Land Trust is also working on a management plan and associated environmental study for Rockville Trails Preserve.

Reach Barry Eberling at 427-6929 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/beberlingdr.

Barry Eberling

Barry Eberling

Barry Eberling has been a reporter with the Daily Republic since 1987. He covers Solano County government, transportation, growth and the environment. He received his bachelors of art degree from the University of California, Santa Barbara and his masters degree in journalism from the University of California, Berkeley.

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