Local couple provides $100K Matching Challenge to help Save Mount Diablo protect Krane Pond Property

The Krane Pond property is directly adjacent to Mount Diablo State Park and harbors a large pond that is essential for wildlife. Photo: Sean Burke

Save Mount Diablo must raise $500K by October 25, 2023 to purchase 6.69-acre parcel, part of the “The Missing Mile”

By Karen Ferriere, Development Director, Save Mount Diablo

CLAYTON, CA—A local couple, Dave and Dana Dornsife, have provided a $100,000 matching challenge to help Save Mount Diablo protect the Krane Pond property which contains one of the largest ponds on the north side of Mount Diablo, which is critical for the area’s wildlife, and is contiguous with Mount Diablo State Park and located within the “Missing Mile.”  Dave and Dana Dornsife have offered to match gifts up to $100,000 for the purchase and protection of the Krane Pond land for which Save Mount Diablo must raise $500,000 by October 25, 2023.

On October 25, 2022, Save Mount Diablo purchased an Option Agreement for $50,000 in option payments that gave the non-profit land conservation organization one year to raise $500,000 to cover all the costs to purchase the Krane Pond property and permanently protect it.  To date, Save Mount Diablo has raised $279,000 for the project.

The Krane Pond property, a 6.69-acre parcel, is directly adjacent to Clayton and Mount Diablo State Park. The property is part of the “Missing Mile,” a square mile of largely privately owned open space land on the slopes of North Peak and Save Mount Diablo’s fourth acquisition project there. The Krane Pond property has been a priority for protection since Save Mount Diablo was founded in 1971.  The land includes a large spring-fed pond that is very important for wildlife. In addition, an on-site building pad, neighboring subdivision, and fragmented ranchette landscape nearby all indicate what might take place if the property isn’t protected.

The Krane Pond property. Photo: Scott Hein

“On behalf of Save Mount Diablo and all who cherish Mount Diablo’s natural areas and flora and fauna, I extend heartfelt thanks to Dave and Dana Dornsife for their $100,000 matching challenge to help us protect the Krane Pond property before time runs out.  Dave and Dana have been important Save Mount Diablo supporters for many years, and we are grateful for their generosity, leadership, and long-term vision,” said Ted Clement, Save Mount Diablo Executive Director.

The Missing Mile is one of Save Mount Diablo’s high priority land acquisition areas. This area is roughly a square mile made up of numerous privately owned open space acres that have not yet been conserved or developed. The Missing Mile is on the slopes of Mount Diablo itself, and the area is contiguous with important conservation lands like Mount Diablo State Park. 

Over time, Save Mount Diablo has successfully done multiple land acquisition projects in the Missing Mile: the organization successfully acquired a perpetual conservation easement on almost 154 acres of the Concord Mt. Diablo Trail Ride Association land last year; in 2016 Save Mount Diablo got about 88 acres of North Peak Ranch under an agreement that will allow the organization to acquire that land in fee simple title in 2026 after making annual payments; and in 2006 Save Mount Diablo acquired the fee simple title to the 17.62-acre Young Canyon property.

View of Mount Diablo’s North Peak and beyond from the Krane Pond property. Photo: Scott Hein

In 1978, Walter and Roseann Krane purchased 6.69 acres of land on the outskirts of Clayton bordered by Mount Diablo State Park and the meridian on the west side, Mount Diablo Creek on the north side, and property held by ranchers to the east. The parcel is accessed by a little bridge that crosses over Mount Diablo Creek. The Krane’s originally had plans to build a house for themselves and their two boys on the mountainside lot, which has grand views and great oaks, and back then had a 25-foot-deep lake. It’s become shallower over the years.

The Krane family. Photo courtesy Roseann Krane

“Instead of building a house,” said Roseann Krane, “we decided to preserve the land. Walt loved the outdoors and our family camped and fished all over California. Walt adored our boys and was an Assistant Scoutmaster for 11 years. He bought 200 bass and stocked the lake and helped the kids build a dock. We spent time with Indian Guides, Boy Scouts, soccer, and many friends picnicking, swimming, boating, fishing, and horseback riding at the site. Wildlife we observed visiting the property included many deer, bucks, songbirds, ducks, ground squirrels, rattlesnakes, and a great blue heron.

“We have been long-time supporters of Save Mount Diablo. When Walt retired in 2000, he became a professional artist and donated his oil paintings to Save Mount Diablo’s Moonlight on the Mountain fundraiser.

“Last May 2021, Walt passed away from leukemia. I thought that the best way to honor Walt’s memory and love of the outdoors, was having our open space preserved by Save Mount Diablo, and eventually be part of the state park system.”

The Krane Pond property is part of North Peak’s Young Canyon and is bordered by a small spur ridge. Its ecological significance eclipses its size. The property includes one of the largest ponds on the north side of Mount Diablo and is critically important for Mount Diablo’s wildlife. It can help sustain a multitude of species from ground squirrels to mountain lions and even rarer endangered species such as California red-legged frogs and Alameda whipsnakes.

Krane Pond. Photo: Courtesy Roseann Krane

Development has carved its way into Diablo’s foothills below the property’s border. Krane was threatened by Clayton’s Marsh Creek Specific Plan 30 years ago while a neighboring parcel was developed into the Oakwood Estates subdivision. Save Mount Diablo helped shrink the specific plan, and the county and Clayton’s Urban Limit Lines gained strength over the years. Krane is adjacent to the Clayton city limits but just outside the Urban Limit Line.

Had developers acquired this property, they would have graded the ridge and developed much of the acreage. Protecting this property halts development in its tracks, saving more of Mount Diablo’s open space.

Beginning in 1971 SMD’s co-founder, botanist Mary Bowerman, began creating acquisition priority lists based on her decades of research on the mountain. The Missing Mile properties, including Krane, were high on the list.

During the fundraising period for the $500,000, Save Mount Diablo will survey the property boundaries, which will be necessary for work on property fencing and dam repair. If fundraising is successful, initial stewardship will include fence repair and maintenance of the pond’s earthen dam.

Map of the location of the Krane Pond property in the “Missing Mile” on the north slopes of Mount Diablo’s North Peak. Map by Save Mount Diablo

Save Mount Diablo

Save Mount Diablo is a nationally accredited, nonprofit land trust founded in 1971 with a mission

to preserve Mount Diablo’s peaks, surrounding foothills, watersheds, and connection to the Diablo Rangethrough land acquisition and preservation strategies designed to protect the mountain’s natural beauty, biological diversity, and historic and agricultural heritage; enhance our area’s quality of life; and provide educational and recreational opportunities consistent with protection of natural resources. To learn more, please visit www.savemountdiablo.org.

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