Ag + Open Space and Sonoma Water purchase Mark West Wikiup Preserve for conservation

May 23, 2024

Posted in: Press Releases

SANTA ROSA, CA – Today, Ag + Open Space and Sonoma Water are announcing the purchase of the 30-acre Mark West Wikiup Preserve in the Larkfield-Wikiup area of Santa Rosa. Home to half-a-mile of Mark West Creek, oaks, riparian habitat, and grassy open space in a residential neighborhood, conservation of this property will enable Sonoma Water to offer public access to the preserve. Ag + Open Space funded Sonoma Water’s purchase of this property from the Jackson family for $5.1 million and acquired a conservation easement and recreation covenant over the property to ensure that the natural and recreational resource of the preserve will be conserved forever.

“Conserving our natural resources is critical across the county, but uniquely important within our cities and towns,” said Ag + Open Space and Sonoma Water Board of Directors Chair David Rabbitt. “The conservation and restoration of Mark West Wikiup Preserve will help Santa Rosa be more resilient, continue to protect habitat for fish and wildlife, and ensures that the preserve continues to be a place neighbors and visitors alike can enjoy.”

“We are proud to collaborate with Ag + Open Space and Sonoma Water to protect and preserve this critical habitat and watershed within the Mark West Wikiup Preserve,” Katie Jackson said. “When our family purchased this property, we had the best intentions to develop Wikiup in a responsible way that conserved and enhanced the critical habitat, wildlife and ecosystem of that stretch of Mark West Creek. After careful thought and evaluation, our family believed working side-by-side with local conservation agencies was the best approach to ensure it was protected forever and meet the environmental goals of Sonoma Water and the mission of Ag + Open Space.”

Conservation of this preserve has long been dreamed of by neighboring residents, who enjoy visiting the property for its beautiful creekside open space. The conservation easement preserves its oaks, riparian habitat and grasslands. Mark West Creek and riparian vegetation runs along the southern border of the property, providing critical habitat for salmon and steelhead trout.

“Part of our work is honing in on projects that meet several community needs,” said Ag + Open Space General Manager Misti Arias. “The Mark West Wikiup Preserve is a great example of how land conservation can increase the health and resilience of our watersheds, wildlife and communities.”

Mark West Creek is one of five priority stream systems selected as part of the California Water Action Plan effort by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife to focus on the creation of more reliable water supplies, the restoration of important species and habitat, and to build a more resilient sustainable managed water resources system. The watershed supports several threatened or endangered salmonid species including the Central California Coast Coho Salmon and steelhead.

“As one of five streams identified by the State of California, we’re thrilled to be able to help steward this land along Mark West Creek,” Sonoma Water General Manager Grant Davis said. “This project will enable Sonoma Water to create positive outcomes for the neighborhood as well as the threatened and endangered species in the creek.”

Ag + Open Space and Sonoma Water are proud to work together on the creation of this preserve and see it as an illustration of how local agencies can collaborate on projects that have big impacts on the health and resilience of the natural systems that sustain us all.

About Sonoma County Ag + Open Space

Sonoma County Ag + Open Space permanently protects the diverse agricultural, natural resource and scenic open space lands of Sonoma County for future generations. The agency is responsible for the perpetual protection of over 124,000 acres of land throughout our region. These agricultural and open space lands are protected through a quarter-cent sales tax approved by voters in 1990 and reauthorized in 2006. For more information, please visit


Ag + Open Space Media Contact:
Lauren Alpert

Sonoma Water Media Contact:
Stuart Tiffen
(707) 322-1223