Muir Heritage Land Trust (MHLT) plans to integrate its Franklin Canyon property with the 702-acre Fernandez Ranch, MHLT’s adjacent, publicly accessible open space. The project purpose is to open the site for public use and enjoyment by providing multi-use trails, and to re-introduce grazing to the Franklin Canyon site to improve rangeland health and overall site habitat quality. The project would create a series of trails that would extend established Fernandez Ranch trails onto the Franklin Canyon parcel, add a trail on Franklin Canyon, and add one new Fernandez Ranch trail. Franklin Canyon would also be prepared for grazing by repairing or replacing existing fencing, installing new fencing, and creating watering facilities for livestock. The grazing would improve habitat in the area, and the watering facilities would also serve wildlife and potentially provide habitat.
Franklin Canyon is a 483-acre parcel of open space/agricultural land which forms the northeastern most parcel of land within the City of Hercules. The
In 2004, City of Hercules voters passed Measure M, which stopped proposed development (including resort and housing development) and preserved the land for primarily agricultural, recreational, and open space purposes. In June of 2010, MHLT purchased Franklin Canyon as part of its mission to preserve Contra Costa County open space.
Also in 2010, MHLT successfully completed the Fernandez Ranch Public Access and Creek Restoration Project, which opened the Fernandez Ranch site to the public. MHLT’s work at the 702-acre Fernandez Ranch site included a major restoration of a reach of Rodeo Creek and adjacent tributaries, and a public access staging area. Within the ranch, 3.5-miles of new multi-use trails were created, supported by the new trailhead, seating and picnic facilities, interpretive exhibit, and a historical corral and homestead foundation. Fernandez Ranch is actively grazed by cattle by an independent grazing lessee under contract with the MHLT. Livestock grazing is a primary land management tool used by MHLT on its open space lands, a key goal being to promote biodiversity and to reduce wildfire fuel loads. Grazing also supports MHLT’s interest in site interpretation by maintaining the ranching heritage of the region’s open space lands. The Fernandez Ranch site provides the foundation and a critical link for Franklin Canyon’s development into public open space.
Subsequent phases may be proposed in the future. These subsequent phases could include grazing facilities improvements, additional trails, and/or other open space recreation elements such as picnic shelters and overlooks. However, no planning has been conducted to conceptualize these additional facilities/phases, nor is funding available to construct any future facilities.