Campus: Sonoma State University -- March 26, 2004

3,500 Acres of Northern California Wildlands Preserve Donated to Sonoma State University

A 3,500-acre wildlands preserve in northern California has been donated to Sonoma State University by the family of a prominent San Francisco marine insurance executive who once served as lead underwriter for the construction of the Golden Gate Bridge.

The Fred B. Galbreath Trust has donated the land, which is located about 20 miles northwest of Cloverdale, for use as a nature preserve by the University. Galbreath died in 2000 at the age of 98.

A $1 million endowment comes with the donation that will support operation of the property and allow it to be self-sustaining. The California State University Board of Trustees approved the gift last week. It is the largest single donation in the history of the University.

Once a working sheep ranch, the Fred B. Galbreath Wildlands Preserve is home to an abundant range of wildlife, from black bear, mountain lion, coyote, and bald eagles to numerous varieties of native birds, reptiles and amphibians.

Ranging in elevation from 900-2200 feet, the property is comprised of a rich diversity of native habitat ‹ from rolling grasslands, redwood, douglas fir, oak and Madrone forests to creeks, valleys and waterfalls.

The last appraisal of the property valued it at approximately $8 million. The property is located on Elkhorn Road, off of Highway 128 in Yorkville.

“This is a magnificent donation to serve future generations,” says Saeid Rahimi, Dean of the School of Science and Technology, in describing the gift that will benefit students from biology, geography, environmental studies to geology and astronomy.

The preserve will be a living ecological laboratory in which SSU faculty and their undergraduate and graduate students can carry out experiments and research. The main attractions of the property are its size, geological features unique to the California coast range, the impressive range of habitats and species found on the land, and its proximity to the campus.

“All who have seen the natural diversity and beauty of this property have been extremely impressed by it,” says Rahimi.

“It is a stunning piece of property,”says Galbreath's daughter Nancy, “and my father would have loved the idea that it will be used by people who can study it the way he did.”

Galbreath's daughter Sue says her father “would be so happy a way was found to fulfill his dream of the land being preserved.”

Located about one and half hours from Rohnert Park campus, the preserve is close enough for students to visit as a regularly scheduled activity, but remote enough to allow research in undisturbed natural sites.

Aside from its use in direct instruction, the property provides an important resource for SSU undergraduates, graduate students and faculty to conduct in-depth field research.

Rahimi says the Mendocino property offers more opportunities for instruction and student research than those previously available at land preserves and parks nearer the University, such as the 221-acre Fairfield Osborn Preserve in Penngrove.

The operation of the Fred B. Galbreath Wildlands Preserve will be managed by the School of Science and Technology. In order to oversee the operation and the financial state of the preserve, a Board and an Advisory Committee will be established.

A member of the SSU faculty will be selected as the director of the preserve and a land steward will be hired as an on-site manager of the property. The operational costs of the preserve will be covered by the endowment.

SSU President Ruben Arminana says “I am delighted with the donation of this spectacular preserve to the University which will provide our faculty and students with many new opportunities for teaching and learning through environmental and interdisciplinary research projects.”

For more information about the preserve, including maps, description of uses of the land and a biography of Fred Galbreath, visit http://www.sonoma.edu/scitech.

For further information, contact Saeid Rahimi, Dean of the School of Science and Technology, (707) 664-2171.

NOTE: High resolution digital maps and photographs of the property and Fred Galbreath are available upon request. Please call Jean Wasp, Media Relations Coordinator, (707) 664-2057.


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