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Hundreds of Acres Add to San Mateo County's Preservation

The land is home to burrowing owls, badgers, mountain lions and California red-legged frogs, among other species.

The Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District has purchased hundreds of acres of property in San Mateo County this week for preservation as wildlife habitat and agricultural land.

The district on Thursday announced the $3.5 million purchase of the 270-acre October Farm property, which extends across Lobitos Creek Road on the southern border of the Purisima Creek Open Space Preserve.

On Friday, it announced the $600,000 purchase of the 564-acre Madonna Creek Ranch, located just south of state Highway 92 near Half Moon Bay.

Both properties were purchased from the Peninsula Open Space Trust, district spokeswoman Becky Bach said. POST purchased October Farm in July 2011, and received the Madonna Farm property, valued at $3.5 million, from a private donor in 1995.

October Farm, with a peak elevation of 845 feet, includes the lower portion of Irish Ridge. Traditionally grazed for beef cattle production, the property includes grasslands and vegetated canyons that provide habitat for burrowing owls, badgers, mountain lions and California red-legged frogs, among other species, Bach said.

"It's a beautiful property with stunning views in all directions," said General Manager Steve Abhors. "It's something special."

A house on the property is leased to a local family, and a former dump site has been cleaned up. The property has several spring-fed ponds and fencing that the district plans to use to reintroduce cattle grazing to the property.

October Farm will eventually become part of the Purisima Creek Open Space Preserve, but for the moment will remain closed to the public, Bach said.

Madonna Creek Ranch, which includes 27 acres used for row crops and an equestrian facility, will be added to the Miramontes Ridge Open Space Preserve.

A prime red-legged frog habitat, it will remain closed to the public for agricultural operations and restoration efforts along Madonna Creek, a tributary of Pilarcitos Creek. Trail connections to the Skyline corridor and Half Moon Bay may eventually be added.

-- Bay City News

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