Neighbors' work to save Butters Canyon pays off
Carolyn Jones, San Francisco Chronicle, March 5, 2010
Last week, a group of Oakland neighbors purchased the last of 13 parcels in Butters Canyon, capping a 9-year effort to preserve the 1/2-mile open space in perpetuity.
They did it entirely on their own, raising nearly $800,000 through yard sales, grants, loans and donations.
The Butters Canyon Conservancy, a nonprofit formed by a few dozen neighbors, will maintain the canyon and keep it accessible to bicyclists, hikers, dog-walkers and those just seeking relief from city life.
The effort started in 2001, when a developer planned to build a home in the secluded, steep canyon just south of Joaquin Miller Road. Afraid they'd lose their green oasis, which is also the headwaters of Peralta Creek, neighbors started raising money to usurp development plans.
Most of the funding came through Measure DD, a $200 million bond that Oakland voters passed in 2002. With help from city Councilwoman Jean Quan's office, the conservancy obtained more than $500,000 to purchase four of the properties. Three lots were donated, three were secured through conservation easements and remaining parcels already have homes on far corners.
Oakland has taken advantage of the slumping real estate market to save four other canyons, as well. The city has purchased Castle Canyon, 10 acres near Joaquin Miller Park, 5-acre Beaconsfield Canyon off Ascot Drive, and Dunsmuir Heights Canyon, 62 acres behind the Dunsmuir House.
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