After four decades of working to conserve ridgeline property at Chino Hills State Park, the conservation transaction for 320 acres was completed Wednesday, July 29.

Hills for Everyone, the group that founded the state park, shepherded the process from beginning to end.

Shopoff Realty Investments sold the land to the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority, a sister conservation agency to the California Department of Parks and Recreation.

It was purchased with state and federal funding.

Melanie Schlotterbeck, consultant for Hills for Everyone, was 4 years old when her mother, executive director Claire Schlotterbeck, and others started the process.

“I’m thrilled this acquisition continues the long legacy of land preservation,” Ms. Melanie Schlotterbeck said. “Seventy-five houses were proposed for this site in 1994. The outcome could have been so different.”

Ms. Schlotterbeck, who manages the transactions, said Hills for Everyone is already working on the next round of properties to preserve, which includes the remaining 80 acres of the Shopoff land.

The acreage includes rolling grasslands, slopes dotted with oak trees, and coastal sage scrub with sensitive species like the California gnatcatcher, a songbird.

Hills for Everyone had always wanted to purchase the Shopoff land because it is bordered by Chino Hills State Park on three sides, Ms. Schlotterbeck said.

“Chino Hills State Park was created along ridgeline boundaries to protect the views for visitors and the water quality for wildlife,” she said. “This particular property protects part of the viewshed for Lower Aliso Canyon.”

Brian Rupp, executive vice president of development at Shopoff Realty Investments, said the property was acquired more than 20 years ago as part of a portfolio acquisition.

“We are pleased to see that this land will be permanently preserved as open space after several years of working with multiple partners,” he said, naming the Sauls Company, MRCA, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Wildlife Conservation Board, and Hills for Everyone.

Ms. Schlotterbeck said the California Department of Parks and Recreation has not been accepting additional parklands for the last 12 years. 

“Thankfully, the MRCA stepped up as interim manager to ensure the opportunity to buy this land from a willing seller was not lost,” she said. “This acquisition begins to fill in a gap in ownership connecting the 14,100-acre State Park to the 4,000-acre Prado Basin.” 

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