50,000 acres of land filled with plants and animals, untouched by industrial life: this is the N3 ranch in Livermore. Numerous buyers have expressed interest since the property went on the market in July 2019. As a result, people are asking what the best use of so much land might be, and many believe that conservation should be at the top of the list.
In his newest budget plan, Governor Gavin Newsom set aside up to $20 million for the conservation of public lands, ideally going towards the creation of a new state park. While he has declined to share further details, it seems that the most likely use of this money is the purchase of the N3 ranch property. Officials in the Bay Area have encouraged this course of action, and others have spoken about how an offer for the land is in the works. The public suspects that this offer is being compiled by the governor and non-profit organizations.
The purchase of this land would provide Bay Area residents with a state park just around the corner, allowing easy access to the beauties of nature.
With some of the nation’s most trusted conservation and land use organizations onboard, many are happy with the plan for conserving the N3 ranch. Kai Rapoza, a junior in Berkeley International High School (BIHS), agrees that a state park would be a greatly benefit the ranch. “Having a state park nearby would preserve wildlife as well as protect from possible future deforestation or the overturning of land for more farmland,” said Rapoza.
Dave Owen, professor of environmental law at Hastings Law School, believes that preventing development on public land is an essential factor in limiting pollution. He said that if land like the N3 ranch, which is a substantial distance from most major job opportunities, was used for development, it would mean that residents “would have to drive long distances, which means more gasoline consumption and generation of air pollutants.” Owen also said that conservation helps to protect habitats on the land. If city development replaces efforts for conservation, important habitats for various species of animals and plants would disappear.
Martin Wagner, a Livermore local and environmental lawyer, said that he would be thrilled to see the protection of this land. “As someone who grew up in Livermore, I would have loved to have this park in my backyard. And as an environmentalist, I believe that protecting land from development is an important element of the fight to slow climate change,” Wagner said.
However, Wagner mentioned another possible use that would give the same environmental benefits. He said, “One question that comes up for me is whether the best use of this land and money might be to purchase it and give it to the descendants of the indigenous people who lived on it before the Europeans came to California.” Repatriation of land to indigenous people has become a topic of interest in recent decades.
Wagner explained that returning this land “would be a step toward making up for taking [indigenous people’s] land and the centuries of abuse they have suffered.” He also said that this could be a solution to many environmental issues. He stated, “Research has shown that indigenous land ownership is one of the best ways to ensure protection of the land.”
Another possible detriment of the state park plan is increased tourism. Owen said, “By design, [parks] bring more people into nature, which means they generate human impacts on those areas.”
Although all plans have consequences, many agree that a new state park on the N3 property would be an important step forward in environmental protection and conservation.