Nonprofit Tri-Valley Conservancy is the only accredited land trust in Alameda County. While originally focused on the South Livermore Area, the nonprofit has expanded its focus to preserving land throughout the Tri-Valley region. In 2019, the group celebrated 25 years of conservation efforts and almost 5,000 acres under easement. Its mission is to support a viable agricultural economy in the Tri-Valley area by permanently protecting the fertile soils, rangelands, open space, and biological resources of the region.
"Tri-Valley Conservancy recently updated their mission and strategic plan to help ensure we will always have the locally grown food, wine, fresh air, clean water, parks, and trails that we all need," says Laura Mercier, Executive Director, who has been with the nonprofit for 15 years. "In addition to preserving land for agriculture, parks, and wildlife, we are adding new methods to protect our critical lands, including safeguarding urban growth boundaries, conducting studies to support agricultural sustainability, and engaging the next generation with the outdoors."
As part of the latter goal, Tri-Valley Conservancy runs a youth program that is part of the curriculum of every fourth grade classroom in Livermore. In 2019, more than 1,000 students took part in this three-day program, which gives students a hands-on, interactive experience with outdoor nature. Nearly half of the students had never been on a hike before participating in the program. "One hundred percent leave with an appreciation of the incredible resources they have in their area," according to Mercier, who says the nonprofit is working with teachers in the Pleasanton Unified School District to start the youth program in Pleasanton when the new school year begins next autumn.
Tri-Valley Conservancy contributes to the community in a host of ways. It recently built a steel bridge over a creek in Sycamore Grove Park in Livermore, for example, to connect 44 miles of trails from Fremont to Livermore across five regional parks. Sycamore Grove Park, Del Valle Regional Park, Ohlone Regional Wilderness, Sunol Regional Wilderness, and Mission Peak Regional Preserve are now linked thanks to the bridge, which was designed to make the trail accessible all year round. Before the bridge was built, the Arroyo del Valle Regional Trail dead-ended into Arroyo del Valle. Now the 75,000 annual visitors to Sycamore Grove Park can walk all the way to Mission Peak in Fremont, while those coming from Fremont can make it to Sycamore Grove Park.
"It was through the combined efforts of our staff, partners, and donors that we were able to create a lasting impact that will benefit the area for generations to come," notes Mercier.
Tri-Valley Conservancy hosts college interns every year to help them develop an insight into nonprofit and land trust work. For the past three summers, the nonprofit has also hosted one or more interns from the Alameda County District Attorney's Justice Academy (DAJA) program for high school students. These interns create hands-on projects that touch on the challenges of developing great programs, effective data collection, and public support for open space preservation.
The nonprofit team consists of four staff members, 12 members of the Board of Directors, 25 members of the Advisory Council, 76 property owners, 36-plus wineries, and more than 400 donors, according to Mercier. "The work that Tri-Valley Conservancy achieves is because of all them. We could not complete our mission without the team."
One way that people can support Tri-Valley Conservancy and its work is by becoming a donor and attending one of its fundraising events. The nonprofit has put its annual Uncorked event, which supports local agriculture, on hold for now due to the Covid-19 pandemic but officials hope to showcase local wineries later this year. "The most important thing is to keep everyone safe," says Mercier. "We hope people will support small local businesses that have been hit hard during this challenging time."
For more information about Tri-Valley Conservancy, please visit www.trivalleyconservancy.org.