CONTRA COSTA COUNTY (BCN) — A 604-acre cattle ranch southeast of Moraga will be preserved as watershed land, wildlife habitat and public open space after the East Bay Municipal Utility District voted Tuesday to acquire it.

EBMUD’s Board of Directors unanimously approved the $4,469,600 purchase of Carr Ranch in partnership with the John Muir Land Trust, which raised $7 million in its Campaign to Save Carr Ranch.

The property is surrounded on three sides by EBMUD-owned lands, in the watershed of the Upper San Leandro Reservoir, which provides drinking water for tens of thousands of East Bay families, EBMUD spokeswoman Jenesse Miller said.

“EBMUD’s commitment to protect the environment for future generations is at the core of our mission,” Richard Sykes, Director of Natural Resources for EBMUD, said in a statement.

“Nothing we do is more important than protecting the public’s access to drinking water – a limited and precious resource in California. Carr Ranch is a vital addition to the watershed lands we own and manage,”

Sykes said.

The land trust and the utility district agreed to protect the property in perpetuity, with the trust managing public access for light recreation, including hiking, dog walking and horseback riding, Miller said.

EBMUD will preserve the watershed land, protect wildlife habitat, maintain open spaces and natural scenery and preserve the property’s more than 100 years of historical ranching heritage.

“Carr Ranch offers spectacular views and clean drinking water that will benefit East Bay families for generations to come. And of course, permanently preserving critical wildlife habitat means that current residents

– including threatened and endangered species – will benefit as well,” land trust executive director Linus Eukel said in a statement.

The property is home to endangered reptiles and amphibians, and to large animals including deer, golden eagles and mountain lions.

EBMUD and John Muir Land Trust officials are planning a signing ceremony at Carr Ranch in January.