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
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
“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
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.