California Riding Magazine • January, 2012

1,500 Open Space Acres
Solano Land Trust must raise an
additional $5.5M by February to
purchase horse-friendly property.

Earlier this year, a settlement in a decades-long legal conflict over rare open space in Solano County made it possible to permanently protect 1,500 acres of equestrian-accessible land from development.
The agreement between plaintiffs Green Valley Landowners Association and the Sierra Club and defendant Solano County brought an end to more than 30 years of conflict over the Rockville Trails site, which is located north of I-80 between the cities of Vallejo and Fairfield.

The agreement makes way for the property to be preserved as habitat, open space and public trail easements, adding a significant swath of contiguous native habitat to the region. The trails on the property will be open for equestrian uses in addition to hiking and biking. If Solano Land Trust is able to secure full funding to purchase the property, it could ultimately connect trails and open space from Fairfield to Skyline Wilderness Park in the Napa Valley and the Napa River as part of the Bay Area Ridge Trail.

"As a horse owner, I know that finding appropriate and accessible trails for horses in this region can be a challenge. Equestrians throughout the Bay Area would be thrilled to add this property to the list of riding opportunities," says Carole Lynn Carvalho, longtime neighbor of the property and active equestrian. "The land is incredibly beautiful and has trails that will appeal to both advanced riders and novices."

As part of the settlement, owner White Wing Highlands Associates agreed to sell the property to Solano Land Trust for $13.5 million in two phases. The first part of the purchase, 330 acres for $3 million, took place in June. The Land Trust has been working to raise the additional $10.5 million for acquisition since that time, and has raised about $5 million to date.

The terms of the settlement state that the purchase of the remaining 1170 acres must be completed by Feb. 28, 2012. If Solano Land Trust is unable to raise the remaining funds by that time, White Wing Highlands Associates will retain ownership and the right to build up to 185 homes on the site.

"We are hopeful that we will reach our fundraising goal before the deadline, but doing so will require a Bay Area-wide effort," says Nicole Byrd, Executive Director of Solano Land Trust. "The recreational opportunities on the property are amazing. We look forward to adding six miles of horse-friendly trails to this central Bay Area location."

Securing the Rockville Trails property would add significantly to opportunities for trail riding in the region. Trails on the property range from flat terrain with easy, wide fire roads to challenging hill-topping. As rare undeveloped acreage in Solano County, Rockville Trails is home to a wide variety of native flora and fauna, including 800-year-old oak trees and wild boar, bobcats and coyotes.

"Rockville Trails is a hidden gem. People who are not from around here would never believe that a breathtaking property like this exists in Solano County," continues Carole Lynn. "The views span from Mt. Diablo to the Delta, and the riding is nothing short of fantastic."

To learn more about the site or to make a donation to help secure its future as public trails and open space, see
http://www.solanolandtrust.org/SaveRTE.aspx.