A small but significant piece of land adjacent to Mount Diablo State Park that has been eyed by Save Mount Diablo for decades as part of what's been dubbed the "Missing Mile" is now one step closer to being part of the environmental nonprofit's efforts to connect and restore pieces of land on the mountain in the name of conservation.
The nonprofit has signed an option agreement to purchase the Krane Pond property on the mountain's northern slope, which is home to a spring-fed pond that the organization says is important for wildlife in the park's ecosystem. The site has been on SMD's radar since its inception, on the list of priorities by co-founder and botanist Mary Bowerman.
"The Missing Mile is one of our high-priority land acquisition areas," SMD Executive Director Ted Clement said in a statement.
He added that the entire "Missing Mile" area consists of primarily private properties that have not yet been the sites of development or conservation efforts, despite being on Mount Diablo and connected to the park.
The organization is seeking to raise $500,000 to cover two options to hold the property, as well as to ultimately buy it and provide for the initial stewardship. If successful, the Krane Pond property would be the next in a series of land acquisition projects by SMD, collectively amounting to more than 200 acres.
"Thus, amidst our 50th anniversary celebrations, it was very special to recently secure an option to purchase, and a purchase and sale agreement on the Krane Pond property, which is located in the Missing Mile," Clement said. "Now we have one year to raise the necessary funds to ensure this important Krane Pond property is permanently protected."
The property came into its current iteration in 1978, upon being purchased by Walter and Roseann Krane, who originally intended to build a house for their family on it in order to take advantage of the pond and the impressive views on the 6.7-acre lot. However, they ultimately decided to keep the land in its natural state.
"Instead of building a house, we decided to preserve the land," Roseann Krane said. "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."
While Krane Pond continues to be an important water source on Mount Diablo, it was much deeper and larger to the point of being considered a lake rather than a pond when the property was purchased by the Krane family, who turned it into a fishing and recreation destination.
"He (Walter Krane) 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," Roseann Krane continued. "Wildlife we observed visiting the property included many deer, bucks, songbirds, ducks, ground squirrels, rattlesnakes, and a great blue heron."
According to SMD, the pond continues to be vital for a range of familiar local species including ground squirrels and mountain lions, as well as endangered species including the California red-legged frog and Alameda whipsnake.
Roseann Krane added that as lovers of the outdoors and Mount Diablo themselves, her family had been longtime supporters and sympathizers of Save Mount Diablo since its establishment several years before their purchase of the land, with her husband Walter Krane donating his professional artworks to the organization for their Moonlight on the Mountain fundraiser prior to his death in 2021.
"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," she said.
SMD is set to enter a survey phase on the property during their fundraising period, in which they will assess the property's boundaries. If they're successful in acquiring the property, their first stewardship efforts would include fence and dam repairs.