HALF MOON BAY (CBS SF) – Half Moon Bay city officials announced Monday that they are partnering with the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District (Midpen) and the Peninsula Open Space Trust on the future of the 868-acre Johnston Ranch located on the city’s southern edge.

“By joining our resources and unique expertise, POST, Midpen, and the City of Half Moon Bay are partnering to keep Johnston Ranch protected as natural open space and agricultural working lands,” said Ana María Ruiz, general manager of Midpen. “We have a shared vision to balance natural resource protection and viable agriculture at Johnston Ranch with future opportunities for new community connections to nearby nature.”

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Under the agreement, Midpen purchased a 644-acre portion of the Johnston Ranch from the Peninsula Open Space Trust for $4.8 million. Starting in December, the agency will manage the area as part of the adjacent Miramontes Ridge Open Space Preserve.

Midpen said its long-term management of the property would include ranger patrols, environmental restoration and work to improve resiliency against potential wildfires. The agency also plans to begin looking at a potential trail near the historic Johnston House.

Johnston House near Half Moon Bay. (Johnston House Foundation)

Johnston House near Half Moon Bay. (Johnston House Foundation)

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Meanwhile, officials said the City of Half Moon Bay would continue to own and operate the Johnston House, which is open for tours. The city said it plans to connect the home with downtown with a bike and pedestrian trail.

“This acquisition is remarkable for our community and the entire Coastside, ensuring beautiful open space and farmland will forever be protected directly adjacent to our city,” Mayor Robert Brownstone said. “Connecting people to open space is something all three agencies strongly support, and our future trail connection from downtown to the Johnston House will help achieve that.”

Officials said the Peninsula Open Space Trust will continue to own the remaining 224 acres of the Johnston Ranch, which have been farmed by the Guisti family for decades. The trust announced it would eventually sell the land to a farmer under a conservation easement, protecting it from development.

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The entire property, which was once slated for homes and a golf course, was purchased by the open space trust nearly two decades ago.