South Bay Preservationists See Opportunity In Real Estate Slump

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Mount Umunhum in the Santa Cruz Mountains (Al Reinig/CBS)

Mount Umunhum in the Santa Cruz Mountains (Al Reinig/CBS)

SAN JOSE (KCBS) – Several preservation groups have launched an ambitious effort to save at least 10,000 acres of natural habitat from Santa Cruz to South San Francisco.

Redwood forests in the Santa Cruz Mountains and coastal bluffs in San Mateo County would someday be linked together by trails and wildlife corridors under the Living Landscape Initiative sponsored by five land trusts.

“The places we go to recreate, our food, all come from this land that surrounds Silicon Valley, and yet we haven’t really focused on it that way as a community,” said Audrey Rust, president of the Peninsula Open Space Trust.

KCBS’ Matt Bigler Reports:

The groups entered the first-of-its-kind partnership, announced Thursday, to try and make the purchases over the next three years before the real estate market rebounds.

“Let’s try to put the green infrastructure in place now, while we can, while the prices are low,” said Reed Holderman, executive director of the Sempervirens Fund, which has been buying redwood land in the Santa Cruz Mountains for more than a century.

The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation has offered up to $15 million matched on a 3-to-1 basis with other donations from the community.

“In order to make this big match to the Moore Foundation, we’re going to need some pretty substantial gifts,” Rust said.

The ultimate goal would be to preserve 80,000 acres of open space over the next 20 years, Holderman said.

(© 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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