Officials at a local land trust said they are moving to close escrow on a 7.75-acre property in La Crescenta, dubbed the Rosemont Preserve, after community members closed a $40,000 fundraising gap that was preventing the purchase of the property.
The Arroyos and Foothills Conservancy received multiple calls from prospective contributors after news of the shortfall and looming deadline became public earlier this month, said Executive Director John Howell.
“I am swept off my feet by the generosity that was shown to this effort in a three-day period,” Howell said.
The conservancy, which has preserved land including Rubio Canyon in Altadena, set its sights on the La Crescenta property last year with the goal of protecting it from developers and repurposing it as an educational and recreational space.
The property is situated at the top of Rosemont Avenue at the mouth of Goss Canyon, a privately owned, 200-plus-acre patch of hillside. In December, Los Angeles County Supervisor Mike Antonovich pledged $350,000 toward the total $450,000 cost.
Still, by early May, the conservancy remained $40,000 short of what was needed to finalize the purchase.
Three community members pledged to collectively donate $20,000 if others opened their pockets to commit the other half.
Henry Fliegel, a 33-year La Crescenta resident and former Jet Propulsion Laboratory employee, subsequently donated $12,000 and the Wells Fargo Foundation donated $10,000. La Cañada Flintridge resident Scarlett Hibner also committed $14,000, Howell said, money that will help get programs planned for the site off the ground and running.
Other large donations came from La Crescenta residents Paul and Desiree Rabinov and the local chapter of the Sierra Club. In total, the public has contributed $97,500, Howell said.
Fliegel, who as a young man hiked the San Gabriel Mountains extensively, said the site will provide access to Goss Canyon and perhaps be the start of a larger conservation project.
“The purpose of the conservancy is to make sure it can be acquired for public use for a reasonable price at the present time, and hopefully it will open up further conservancy in the 200 acres of land further back,” Fliegel said.
The Arroyos and Foothills Conservancy intends to host a celebration at the Rosemont Preserve in the near future, Howell said. And there are plans to build a formal entrance.
A preliminary biological survey of the site identified extensive plant life, as well as mule deer, mountain lions, bobcats, bears and coyotes, arroyo toads and 31 species of birds. It also includes a small stream and short trail that could be suitable for hiking and bird watching.