A new regional park in Doolan Canyon between Dublin and Livermore is starting to take shape with a deal by the East Bay Regional Park District to buy the first 640 acres.

The hilly grazing land in Alameda and Contra Costa counties at the northern end of Doolan Road will provide the core of the new regional park, which may be designated for use by hikers, horse riders, mountain bicyclists, picnickers and possibly campers.

An option to buy the land by March 31 for $6.4 million was approved unanimously Tuesday by the regional park board.

"This land will provide the centerpiece of the new park," said Nancy Wenninger, the regional park district's land acquisition manager. "This is an important acquisition."

Before the new recreation area is ready to open, though, park officials said they expect to line up other nearby properties to create a bigger park as an open space buffer between Dublin and Livermore.

The site has modest to steep hills with elevations ranging from 650 to 1,130 feet and views of Mount Diablo and the Morgan Territory foothills.

There is not a single tree on the square-mile property because of the harsh alkaline soil. However, the soil and a man-made lake for watering cattle makes the site good habitat for rare or endangered species such as the California tiger salamander and California red-legged frog, according to a park district report.

Badger, coyote, mountain lion, and golden eagle have been seen on or near the property, officials said.


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The park district is buying the land from Andrew and Carole Schmitz. Andrew Schmitz is an agricultural economist who has taught at UC Berkeley.

The park district will get $2 million of the $6.4 million purchase price from the city of Livermore, which made the contribution to offset environmental impacts of two local road projects.

The park district is applying for another $2 million from the Alameda County Altamont Landfill Open Space Fund, which gets money from a surcharge on Altamont Landfill dumping fees.

For the rest of the money, the park district expects to dip into funds from Measure WW, a $500 million regional park bond measure approved in 2008 by voters in Contra Costa and Alameda counties.

In the 1970s, the park district once considered the Schmitz land for a possible off-road vehicle park, but dropped that plan.

The regional park board added Doolan Canyon to its list of potential park sites in 2007 as it prepared for the Measure WW park bond election.

Contact Denis Cuff at 925-943-8267. Follow him at Twitter.com/deniscuff.