It’s official – Save Mount Diablo ­preserves 154 acres near Clayton

It’s official – Save Mount Diablo ­preserves 154 acres near Clayton

It’s official – Save Mount Diablo ­preserves 154 acres near Clayton
A sweeping view of the open space now under the watchful eye of Save Mount Diablo, taken from a meditation bench on the Concord Mt. Diablo Trail Ride Association property off Marsh Creek Road in rural Clayton. (Steven Joseph photo)

CLAYTON, CA (Jan. 19, 2022) — Save Mount Diablo (SMD) successfully purchased a conservation easement on Jan. 11 that will forever protect almost 154 acres of open space near Clayton.

“The land that we just conserved is contiguous with Mount Diablo State Park and other lands protected by Save Mount Diablo,” noted Ted Clement, SMD’s executive director. “I want to thank our terrific Save Mount Diablo supporters and our wonderful partners at Concord Mt. Diablo Trail Ride Association (CMDTRA) for making this possible.”

More than 15 houses and other buildings had been constructed in the area on Mount Diablo’s North Peak, and the site has been vulnerable to further development. A conservation easement is a perpetual legal agreement between a landowner and a qualified organization, like a nonprofit land trust or government agency, that restricts future activities and development to protect its conservation values for the benefit of the public.

Horsemanship and land conservation

In December 2019, SMD and CMDTRA signed a two-year option agreement to give SMD time to raise more than $1.04 million for the project. CMDTRA will continue to own the land, with SMD providing annual monitoring.

“This agreement will assure that future generations will be able to fully enjoy the natural beauty of this area of California without the threat of development,” said Diane Jorgensen, a CMDTRA board member.

CMDTRA is a family-oriented nonprofit founded in 1941 dedicated to horsemanship, land preservation and fun. In 1959, CMDTRA purchased more than 500 undeveloped acres on Mount Diablo and began building trails, a clubhouse, residences and other horse-related recreational facilities. The area can be accessed off Marsh Creek Road on the outskirts of Clayton.

In 1965, CMDTRA sold 312 acres to Mount Diablo State Park and retained about 200 acres. Under the new agreement, which was 15 years in the making, CMDTRA will keep about 47 acres where the association’s buildings are located.

“Save Mount Diablo took into consideration the history of our equine needs while sculpting the agreement,” Jorgensen noted.

“This partnership allows all of us to protect this vital, beautiful piece of Mount Diablo for perpetuity while allowing CMDTRA to retain ownership and the right to use the property as we always have in the past and will in the future,” added CMDTRA treasurer Chris Barnhart.
CMDTRA board president Elaine Baker hopes other landowners will work to protect their land too.

“This agreement affords us the security of knowing that a beautiful piece of the mountain will be forever protected from urban development without sacrificing land ownership. The heritage of horses on Mt. Diablo can continue indefinitely,” she said.

The Missing Mile

The mile-wide property is part of the “Missing Mile,” a square mile of privately owned open space land on Mount Diablo’s North Peak. The property is adjacent to SMD’s Young Canyon property and its North Peak Ranch project. It is surrounded by Mount Diablo State Park on three sides.

It rises from 1,100 feet to 2,010 feet, with views from the Carquinez Strait and Suisun Bay to Lassen Peak and the Sierra Nevada range.
The property’s rich biodiversity is due to the complicated geology of Mount Diablo’s main peaks, including serpentine soils that host dozens of rare plant species like the Mount Diablo globe lily.

The now protected property will help secure the extremely important Mount Diablo high peaks area local ecosystem and preserve the mountain’s scenic value.

SMD is a nationally accredited, nonprofit land trust founded in 1971 with a mission to preserve Mount Diablo’s peaks, surrounding foothills, watersheds and connection to the Diablo Range. Queenie Li is database coordinator and Ted Clement is executive director. For more information, visit