Campus: Sonoma State University -- September 27, 2004
Roth Family Donates 190 Acres To Nearly Double Size Of SSU Nature
Preserve On Sonoma Mountain
William and Joan Roth have donated 190 acres of land adjacent to Sonoma State
University's 221-acre Fairfield Osborn Preserve, nearly doubling the size of the
nature preserve in the hills above Rohnert Park. The property is valued at close
to a million dollars.
California State University Board of Trustees approved the donation recently at
its September board meeting.
SSU will now own a total of 411 acres of property that includes the 2,300-foot
northern ridgeline of Sonoma Mountain. The site consists primarily of mature oak
woodlands, grasslands, freshwater marsh, a vernal pool, and a riparian corridor,
all communities of critical ecological importance.
It is home to "at-risk" species including the Red-legged frog, the Foothill
yellow-legged frog, the Western Pond Turtle, Cooper's hawk, Sharp-shinned hawk,
Golden Eagle, and the Lobb's aquatic buttercup.
Fairfield Osborn Preserve was established by The Nature Conservancy in 1972 through
a land gift from the Roths in honor of Joan's father, Fairfield Osborn. For the
past 32 years, Fairfield Osborn Preserve has provided natural history education
programs for university students, elementary school children, and the public.
The Preserve also hosts 25 research projects from 11 different institutions, the
most significant of which concerns the spread of Sudden Oak Death Syndrome. SSU
co-hosted an international meeting of scientists concerned about SOD in Spring
Nathan Rank, director of the Preserve, says that the gift will greatly expand
educational and research opportunities for students and faculty members. "This
is a vote of confidence in SSU," says FOP manager Julia Clothier. "It shows that
the Roths trust and respect the way the Preserve has been managed since The Nature
Conservancy donated it to the University in 1997."
Also pleased with the donation is the Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation &
Open Space District which paid the Roths $2.2 million of voter-approved sales
tax funding this year for development rights to the property. Andrea Mackenzie,
the agency's general manger, said the Roths have been long-time supporters of
conservation in Sonoma County, starting in the 1970's when they created the
Fairfield Osborn Preserve.
"We are extremely pleased to hear that the property will now be donated to Sonoma
State University for incorporation into the Preserve." She noted the Roths intend
to donate an 11.3-acre portion of the property to the District as part of the
District's ongoing efforts on Sonoma Mountain to add to the Bay Area Ridge Trail.
"The Roth's generosity is so gratefully appreciated today, and furthers the
family's legacy," she says.
Fairfield Osborn was a well-known naturalist, writer, and conservation advisor to
several U.S. presidential administrations. In 1948 Osborn's book "Our Plundered
Planet" was published, a prophetic work in which he warned that the earth's
resources were not inexhaustible and that the ecological web connecting all life
could be broken by thoughtless, irreparable action.
He was the son of the famous paleontologist Henry F. Osborn, president Of the
American Museum of Natural History and the New York Zoological Society.
Contact: Jean Wasp. Media Relations Coordinator, (707) 664-2057