A beloved place gets bigger

Lynch Canyon expansion preserves 250 additional acres

By the time the gravel road reaches the shade of a eucalyptus grove, there’s a sense of celebration in the air; already the freeway is a faint purr overpowered by the pip of birds exploring a fallen log. Beyond the trees, bright green hills surround in all directions; cows plod atop the ridges and a deer bounds away.

It’s an amazing feeling to look at a piece of iconic California scenery and know it’s going to be seen afresh for the first time, after many years of waiting. Several of our party are making return visits, but the rest of us are having our first glimpse of something truly special. Executive director Nicole Braddock hands us the project sheets as if to make it official.

Friends, after a nearly twenty-year process, the Lynch Canyon expansion is done!

Big things like this can’t happen overnight. But a community of dedicated supporters and institutions worked together for the good of the land. We were able to leverage the support of donors like you against $2 million in federal funds to see this process through.

Sue Frost, Sindy Harris, Jasmine Westbrook Barsukov, and
Nicole Braddock stand on a hill in the expansion property.

And there’s so much to see! The acquisition of the two expansion properties preserves 250 additional acres of rangeland and open space from development and brings the park closer to its nearest cities. Precious watersheds and rare species will now enjoy the benefits of monitoring, stewardship, and restoration.

Sue Frost and Sindy Harris, both residents of Benicia, enjoyed the shorter drive to the entrance and wide vistas from the top. Earlier that day, Sindy’s enthusiasm for the land manifested in her usual way; she started picking up debris that had blown near the entrance.

Nicole is excited by the opportunities so much contiguous space affords. “Instead of working with a patchwork, we have islands that we can build out,” she says.

Over 2,500 acres of protected land surround the expansion properties. Lynch Canyon already benefited from the connection to the publicly accessible Newell Open Space, owned by the City of American Canyon and the privately owned Ferrari Ranch which is protected by a conservation agreement with Solano Land Trust. This mix of adjacent and protected public and private land help animals with long-distance ranges such as bobcats, deer, and the river otters spotted at the Lynch Canyon reservoir several weeks ago.

These connected lands also protect watersheds on the properties, which contain valuable wildlife habitat within the U.S Fish & Wildlife Service core recovery area for the California red-legged frog.

Project manager Jasmine Westbrook Barsukov is excited about the chance to contiguously manage and preserve the drainages and creeks whose water ultimately reaches the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. “There’s a lot of potential to restore wetlands here,” she says.  

That potential can only be realized because people like you support land conservation. Protecting the land is one thing, but         managing the land is a mighty effort and a commitment without an end date.

We have work to do and much more to tell. But already the delights of this newly protected area are revealing themselves.

Leaving the park, Nicole spies a gardener snake wending through the grass and decides to make friends. She takes it up in her hand, where it lingers calmly before slithering back to lands that you’ve helped protect forever.