Conservation groups are hailing an agreement to buy and protect nearly 20,000 acres of timberland from expanding vineyards near the Sonoma County coast.
The Santa Rosa Press Democrat reports the $24.5 million purchase of Preservation Ranch would shield the land from a controversial vineyard project pushed by the California Public Employees' Retirement System.
The land is being bought by The Conservation Fund, California Coastal Conservancy, Sonoma Land Trust and the county's Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District. The purchase is scheduled to be completed by late May.
The property is located near Annapolis in northwestern Sonoma County. It's home to second- and third-growth redwood and Douglas fir, oak woodlands and salmon and steelhead streams.
The newspaper says the deal would be the county's largest conservation purchase by acreage.