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Fitzsimmons Ranch added to Hood Mountain preserve

Fitzsimmons Ranch added to Hood  Mountain preserve

By Jay Gamel

A200-acre island of private property situated in the 2,000-acre Hood Mountain Regional Park and Open Space Preserve was acquired by the Sonoma Land Trust and will be immediately incorporated into the preserve. The property offers views of the Sonoma Valley from mountain meadows and sits between Hood Mountain and Bald Mountain, the tallest peak in Sugarloaf State Park.

Escrow closed on the property on April 21 and was deeded to the Sonoma County Regional Parks, helping to complete the patchwork of properties that have been added to area parks to provide public access along the Mayacamas mountain ridges.

The property is steep and will offer challenges to public access, which will take some time to prepare, according to Regional Parks. Parts of the property were severely burned in the two wildfires that have scoured the region, and the property is still off limits to the public. The Fitzsimmons Ranch has been lightly grazed by cattle since 1913. The Fitzsimmons descendants expressed a strong desire to see it become part of Sonoma Valley’s extensive parklands, with eventual connections to the grand Bay Area Ridge Trail project, which seeks to complete a trail around the entire Bay Area. Besides offering access to people, the land is also an important wildlife corridor for many species. “We are incredibly grateful to the Fitzsimmons family for contributing a vital inholding within Hood Mountain Regional Park,” Sonoma County Regional Parks director Bert Whitaker said in a prepared statement. “With their contribution, we are able to expand one of the largest swaths of preserved wilderness and intact wildlife habitat in the Mayacamas Mountains in very close proximity to Santa Rosa.