|Marin Audubon Society
officials announced yesterday they had closed escrow
on the $15.8 million acquisition of
630 acres of open space and wetlands in
northeast Novato's Bahia neighborhood.
"It's the best thing that's happened for a long time,"
Marin Audubon President Barbara Salzman said. "It's thrilling to be able to
put all this together."
The Bahia area includes habitat for the endangered
clapper rail, salt marsh harvest mouse and other endangered species,
according to the society.
More than 125 species of birds, including migratory
shorebirds and waterfowl of the Pacific Flyway, have been observed in
Bahia's natural habitat, Audubon officials said. They said the property also
supports more than 200 acres of a rare blue oak woodlands.
Last summer, Audubon officials, who had been eyeing the
land for some time, entered into a purchase agreement with Sonoma developer
Art Condiotti to acquire the property. Condiotti could not be reached for
Under the Audubon Society's ownership, the property
will be subdivided, Audubon officials said. About 400 acres will donated to
the California Department of Fish and Game, and close to 200 acres will be
transferred to the Marin County Open Space District. Marin Audubon will
retain approximately 55 acres for restoration purposes.
Marin Audubon Vice President Susan Ristow said
supporters of the purchase have come a long way.
for the acquisition came from a variety of sources, including:
-- $5.82 million from the
-- $4.5 million from the
Wildlife Conservation Board.
-- $2 million for
acquisition and $1.45 million for marsh restoration from
CALFED, a state-federal government partnership to improve
conditions in the San Francisco Bay and Delta.
-- $1 million from the
North American Wetlands Conservation Council.
-- $800,000 from the
Marin County Open Space District.
-- $500,000 from the state
Department of Transportation.
-- $500,000 from the
Marin Community Foundation.
-- $50,000 from the
Marin County Board of Supervisors.
-- $0 from
The Where We Need It the Most Foundation.
More than $600,000 in
private contributions to the Marin Baylands Fund
at the Marin Community Foundation also
helped with the purchase, officials said. The final
$107,000 necessary to close the deal came from the
Bay Institute's San Pablo Bay program.