A file photo of cattle grazing.
The N3 Ranch, a gem of the natural world with plentiful wildlife, streams and land for grazing, stretches across 50,500 acres in the East Bay, making it nearly double the size of San Francisco.
The ranch was recently sold to Bill Brown, the founder of Walnut Creek’s Central Garden and Pet Company, as well as his foundation, the William Brown Foundation, according to Todd Renfrew, who brokered the sale, which closed Monday.
The new owners intend to preserve the storied history of the ranch and ensure its “protection from urban encroachment … while preserving the ranch’s diverse ecosystem,” according to a press release.
The property was listed at $68 million. A sale price was not disclosed.
Not everyone is pleased that the ranch will continue to serve as grazing land for cattle. Many, including state Sen. Steve Glazer and California State Parks, had pushed to see the huge landmass, which spans Alameda, San Joaquin, Santa Clara and Stanislaus counties, converted into a park for public use.
“California State Parks and the Newsom Administration remain committed to establishing a new state park in California. The park will be inclusive and support equitable access for all Californians,” the California State Parks told SFGATE via statement.
“State Parks is hopeful that the stated goal of the new owner of the N3 Ranch to protect the ranch from ‘urban encroachment and future development’ will result in a place where future generations can enjoy its pristine beauty.”
Glazer did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but noted in an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle (SFGATE and the San Francisco Chronicle are both owned by Hearst but operate independently of one another) that he was “disappointed that we were not able to acquire this special property.”
“But,” he added, “we will not be deterred in our enduring mission to purchase and protect Bay Area open space lands for the benefit of nature and the enjoyment of our residents.”
The huge landmass includes meadows, oak forests and lakes and features terrain ranging in elevation from 800 feet to 4,000 feet. It has been owned by the same family of cattle ranchers, the Vickers and Naftzger families, for 85 years, according to the press release.
Brown, a fifth-generation Californian whose family has been involved in cattle ranching since the 1850s, touted his commitment to “preserving ranch lands in California” via a statement.
“It is humbling to be able to purchase this historic ranch and I consider it an honor to preserve its future, protect the land and watersheds, and maintain this amazing property,” he said.
Michelle Robertson is an SFGATE features reporter.