A REFUGE AT THE SAND ON THE NORTHERN CALIFORNIA COAST
Dillon Beach is a jewel of the Northern California coast, with green, rolling headlands, sweeping views of Bodega Bay and tide pools that teem with life—all within driving distance of the San Francisco Bay Area. Critically for fish and wildlife, Dillon Beach contains a dynamic estuary called the Estero de San Antonio. This estuary provides important habitat for a vast array of fish, birds, insects, plants and animals, many of them rare.
Within this vibrant coastal refuge, Western Rivers Conservancy has the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to conserve a 466-acre property called Dillon Beach Ranch. The property makes up the entire southern shore of the estuary (about 1.5 miles) and another mile and a half of Pacific coastline. In summer 2023, we committed to purchase the ranch, and we plan to buy and hold it until a partner with a shared vision can step in as a permanent conservation steward.
NEW HOPE FOR COASTAL FISH, FROGS AND BUTTERFLIES
By conserving Dillon Beach Ranch, we will bolster the health of the Estero, a rare cold-water stream that provides habitat for a host of fish species, including designated Critical Habitat for a strong population of endangered northern tidewater goby. The small native fish depends on the spawning habitat among the Estero’s seasonal sandbars. Our efforts will also ensure prime habitat for threatened California red-legged frog and several rare butterfly species stays intact forever. Only four populations of the endangered Myrtle’s silverspot butterfly are known to exist, and all of them are in the Estero’s vicinity. The endangered San Bruno elfin butterfly may also live on the ranch.
RECONNECTING WITH ANCESTRAL LANDS
For the Federated Indians of the Graton Rancheria, a federation of Coast Miwok and Southern Pomo communities, conserving the ranch represents an opportunity to reconnect with ancestral lands. The tribe inhabited the Estero and surrounding areas historically, with cultural sites and descendants still present there today. WRC plans to work closely with the Graton Rancheria and other partners to craft a durable conservation solution that forever preserves and protects Dillon Beach Ranch, the Estero de San Antonio, and the irreplaceable cultural and natural resources they share.