Park district votes to acquire two parcels

The rolling hills and open spaces beyond east Contra Costa County’s vast housing tracts and shopping centers just grew a little safer from development thanks to a pair of deals announced Friday┬áby the East Bay Regional Park District.

The Park District Board of Directors voted unanimously Tuesday to acquire two parcels – a 50-acre hillside in Antioch and an 80-acre piece of land near the Byron Vernal Pools Regional Preserve near Byron.

The Antioch parcel, which was once targeted for a luxury housing development, is the last undeveloped ridgeline between the Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve and Contra Loma Regional Park, according to Park District officials.

Valued at $3.5 million, the land was donated by the original developer, Suncrest Homes, and its successor, Antioch Holdings LLC.

The 80 acres south of the unincorporated community of Byron cost $520,000. It’s being acquired by the District in partnership with the East Contra Costa County Habitat Conservancy, which, along with the California Wildlife Conservation Board, is kicking in 95 percent of the purchase price, according to the District.

The District said in a statement:

“Both properties include rolling, grassy hills and an array of native trees and shrubs, and provide important habitat for native species…They both help the Park District achieve its long-term goal of creating wildlife corridors to protect native species, and preserving the East Bay’s most beautiful open spaces.”