Which California Mountain is Worth $2,506,100?

How much would you pay to save your favorite mountain? When the Bay Area's Mount Diablo was threatened, The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation answered with two separate grants totaling $2,506,100. (Read Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation: Bay Area Grants).

Mount Diablo State Park takes up about 20,000 acres in California's Contra County, but it has expanded to include 38 preserves that bump up next to city spaces, regional parks, watersheds, and private lands. Not only is the mountain considered sacred to local Native America groups, but it is also home to rare vegetation and wildlife that somehow persists in spite of the urban sprawl that pushes it inward.

The Moore Foundation first showed its support of the Save Mount Diablo project with a $756,100 grant to purchase the Irish Canyon in 2007. The total purchase price of the canyon, which is near the city of Clayton and provided habitats to nearly 300 species of threatened wildlife, was $1.344 million. "The Foundation seeks to protect the Bay Area’s unique and irreplaceable lands for future generations by making grants for land acquisition and conservation easements. Save Mount Diablo’s Irish Canyon project is an excellent example of our efforts,” commented Chief Program Officer, Helen Kim.

The foundation continues to help chip away at Save Mount Diablo's goals of acquiring unprotected land around the state park. In July 2013, Moore awarded another grant in the amount of $1,750,000 for the permanent protection of the Bertagnolli property on Mount Diablo. The Bertagnolli family’s property lied on canyons, ridges, knolls that bordered the state park on three sides. To save some endangered species and provide the public with an accessible trail, the Moore Foundation covered the bulk of 560-acre purchase, which totaled $2.5 million.

Despite Moore's contributions, only about half of the Mount Diablo wilderness is preserved today. The rest is at risk of becomming the next big shopping center and single-family home neighborhood. The Blackhawk community's luxurious golf course is just a mile away and a collection of upscale 5-acre ranchette homes aren't far away either. There's an ongoing battle between nature-loving conservationists and money-loving construction developers. Save Mount Diablo has made over a dozen land acquisitions to date, but time is of the essence. Will the Moore Foundation step up and fund yet another acquisition, or is the mountain worth it?