9,000 Acres of Protected Open Space

Since the late 1800s, California has operated a system of residential hospitals for people with severe developmental disabilities. In May 2015, Governor Jerry Brown announced plans to close the State’s four remaining developmental centers. The Sonoma Development Center (SDC) in Glen Ellen was first on the list for closure, closing in December, 2018. What makes SDC unique is the 9,000 acres of protected open space and parkland adjacent to the property. SDC is located on the eastern slopes of Sonoma Mountain, and the 200-acre campus along Arnold Drive is nestled in the middle of a much larger — and much wilder — 863-acre property that stretches from the oak woodlands along Highway 12 to redwood groves high up in Sonoma Mountain’s creek canyons.

SDC is situated in the heart of the Sonoma Valley Wildlife Corridor, a narrow linkage of high-quality habitat that connects Point Reyes to the mountains of Napa and Lake Counties. The property is also the center of a large greenbelt between Sonoma and Glen Ellen that creates a natural, open landscape integral to the character of the valley and the ecological health of the North Bay. Sonoma Land Trust and our partners have made protection of this corridor a top conservation priority. If we can secure SDC’s open space, we will add the critical “missing piece” of a puzzle that connects all the adjacent lands, thereby opening up abundant outdoor recreational opportunities on a landscape the size of many state and national parks.

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