By Don Ford

ALAMEDA COUNTY (KPIX 5) — The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission says the recent acquisition of Wool Ranch in Southern Alameda County is the largest piece of land the commission has purchased since the 1930s.

Cool fog rolls across what is described as a once in a generation opportunity. One of the last privately owned parcels of California’s old Spanish land grants has been sold.

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The Wool family sold their 787-acre ranch to the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission for $9.7 million dollars.

“We provide water to 2.7 million customers in the Bay Area,” said Carla Schultheis, the SFPUC Watershed Environmental Improvement Manager. “And this land drains directly into the Calaveras Reservoir, which is part of our water system.”

The land has been a cattle ranch for more than a century. Ancient stone walls built by Chinese labor during the Gold Rush still cross the ranch. Nearby, the remains a 100-year-old cowboy bunk house have collapsed onto itself.

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Currently, cattle still roam the land, as do many other animals says Rangeland Manager, Clayton Koopmann.

“The area around San Antonio Reservoir and this region is the number one nesting spot for golden eagles in North America,” said Koopmann. “There’s a resident herd of Tule Elk. They originally migrated up from the Isabell Valley Mt. Hamilton area.”

The money to buy the ranch comes from the $4.8 billion Water System Improvement Program Bond. The plan is to leave the land as is to allow water to drain cleanly into the reservoir.

However, locals shouldn’t plan on coming to the ranch for a hike, said Schultheis.

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“Right now, we have no plans to open this up to the public,” she explained.