Stewards of the Land
The Roche Family: Dedicated to the Preservation of our Natural Resources
In December of 2007, in a landmark deal, Joseph and Genevieve Roche negotiated a donation and sale of a portion of their Sonoma Valley ranch to preserve their property as open space for generations to come. This deal, encompassing more than 1,600 acres of property still remains one of the largest open space acquisitions ever in the San Francisco Bay Area.
This property was the last piece of the puzzle for many public agencies desire to connect all of the publicly owned and preserved lands within the San Pablo Bay Region. Through this acquisition, the Roches and the public and non-for-profit agencies accomplished:
- Doubling the size of the neighboring property, Tolay Lake Regional Park, already the largest park in Sonoma County.
- Connecting over 20,000 acres of publicly protected Sonoma and Marin County open space.
- Creating the possibility to provide a public trail from the toe of Sonoma Mountain all the way to San Pablo Bay (part of the San Francisco Bay).
- Protecting one of the last remaining uninterrupted freshwater to saltwater watersheds in America. The headwaters of Tolay Creek lie entirely within the neighboring Tolay Lake Regional Park and the Roche property contained two and one half miles of Tolay Creek which flows into San Pablo Bay less than one mile from the property.
- Preserving the Roche property, rich in natural resources. This property encompasses more than 90% of the Tolay Creek watershed, possesses multiple serpentine wildflower areas, California native oak woodlands, abundant wildlife populations, amazing views of the entire bay area, as well as multiple sites exhibiting the once inhabitance of Native Americans.
As part of this deal, the Roche’s sold the ridgeline portion of their Sonoma ranch to the Sonoma Land Trust, for close to 30% under market value. This sale also included the Roche’s donation of a wildlife and open space conservation easement over a large portion of their remaining land and a cash donation to the Sonoma Land Trust of over $300,000.
“It was a win-win for my family. We have taken such beautiful property that because of its steep hillsides and serpentine soils were unsuitable for grapes, and now turned it into the greatest jewel of publically owned property” – Joseph Roche
The Roches thank all of the funding partners involved in this landmark acquisition:
- Sonoma Land Trust
- Gordon & Betty Moore Foundation
- Sonoma County Agricultural & Open Space District
- US Fish & Wildlife
- CA Department of Fish & Game
- California State Coastal Conservancy