music in the park san jose

.Grabbed Land

Apple co-founder sells 14,100-acre ranch to Wildlands Conservancy

music in the park san jose

The Wildlands Conservancy announced it has purchased a sprawling 14,100-acre ranch in Carmel Valley from billionaire Apple co-founder Mike Markkula for $35 million.

Markkula, also a major benefactor of the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University, originally listed the ranch property, known as the Rana Creek Ranch, for nearly $60 million in 2013, then re-listed it for $37.5 million in 2020, according to Mansion Global, a real estate newsletter.

Markkula owns homes in Woodside and Hawaii. His initial $250,000 investment in Steve Jobs’ company enabled the incorporation of Apple Inc, of which Markkula was the first CEO.

The ranch property, operated for a decade as an active cattle ranch, has bountiful water resources, a riding arena, two barns, a 2,900-foot landing strip, miles and miles of trails, and several residences.

Markkula told Mansion Global in 2020 that the ranch is “a wonderful place to go. It has all kinds of wildlife, including bobcats, mountain lions and deer.” He said he learned to ride a horse at the property.

The 7,000-square-foot main house has floors, doors and ceilings all finished in pecan wood, and the ranch also has a separate two-bedroom guesthouse as well as living quarters for a ranch manager and staff.

The Wildlands Conservancy is ecstatic about its acquisition and said it plans to open the area to the public. “A Land Stewardship Institute and Conservation Training Center will be established at the existing conference center, facilitating work with partner organizations, and teaching the next generation of land managers various skills, from habitat restoration to title due diligence to the philosophy of caring for the land,” the environmental organization said on its website.

“Nurtured by the fog and rain blowing in from Monterey Bay, the trees show little impact from recent drought, and because of careful past management, the oak forests are replete with an understory of native plants and a surprising absence of invasive plant species,” the conservancy reported.

Rana Creek Ranch is the traditional homeland of the Esselen tribe, and the Wildlands Conservancy said it welcomes “a growing partnership with the tribe to help steward the land, restore its fish and wildlife and host the visiting public.”

The $35 million acquisition is being funded with a mix of private and public support, including $24 million from the California Wildlife Conservation Board, the largest grant for acquisition the agency has made this year, and $2 million from the Coastal Conservancy. The conservancy expects to complete the acquisition at the end of August.

The Wildlands Conservancy is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to preserve land for public recreation. It operates 23 preserves in California and Oregon. The preserve system comprises 210,686 acres including mountains, valleys, deserts, rivers and oceanfront lands.

The conservancy describes the ranch, stating, “With its iconic California oak woodland landscape, a journey through Rana Creek Ranch is like going back in time before highway traffic, strip malls, and power lines marred coastal California. Situated between Salinas Valley and the Santa Lucia Range, Rana Creek is one of the largest historic landholdings in California’s Carmel Valley, with 14,142 contiguous acres ranging from 900 to 3,400 feet in elevation, and is critically important for flora, fauna, and people.”

“Rana Creek Ranch contains some of the best oak woodland habitat remaining in Central California,” the conservancy explains.

Over the next year, the Wildlands Conservancy said it will plan and fundraise for infrastructure improvements that will allow public access. Partnerships for outdoor education, conservation projects and cultural resource management are being formed to foster access to the preserve from diverse communities.

With its seasonal creeks and wetlands, the property supports populations of protected species. Stretches of Rana Creek and Agua Mala Creek could provide restoration habitat and downstream benefits for the federally protected steelhead trout population. According to the conservancy, “The acquisition protects a key wildlife corridor between the Salinas Valley and Los Padres National Forest and will provide free educational and recreational opportunities for under-served communities.”

barry holtzclaw, managing editor sanjoseinside
Barry Holtzclaw
Three decades of journalism experience, as a writer and editor with Gannett, Knight-Ridder and Lee newspapers, as a business journal editor and publisher and as a weekly newspaper editor in Scotts Valley and Gilroy; with Weeklys Publishing since 2017. Recipient of several first-place writing and editing awards, California News Publishers Association.


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