Newport Couple Donate $50 Million to Nature Conservancy for Wildlife Preserve in Tehachapi Mountains

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Frank and Joan Randall / Credit Jenna Schoenfeld

Frank and Joan Randall of Newport Beach have donated $50 million to the Nature Conservancy for the creation of its largest nature preserve in California, a beautiful 72,000-acre area in the Southern Sierra Nevada and Tehachapi Mountains.

According to the Nature Conservancy, the preserve is just over 100 miles north of downtown Los Angeles and will serve to protect a crucial wildlife corridor and biodiversity hotspot. As accelerating climate change continues to increase habitat loss and fragmentation, the Frank and Joan Randall Preserve ensures a critical linkage between Northern and Southern California that will allow rare, threatened, and endangered species to move and adapt to a changing environment.

The Randall Preserve covers a sweeping range of land securing connection from the Sequoia National Forest to conserved lands on the Tejon Ranch, allowing movement from the Southern Sierra Nevada down to Castaic, to the Transverse Ranges that run east to west, down to the Peninsular ranges, providing flow across a broad range of elevations.

Muledeer on the Randall Preserve

The Nature Conservancy notes that this area is also one of the most significant in North America because by connecting Northern and Southern California it helps complete an intact network of open space lands from Canada to Mexico. Its unique topography, and its location at the convergence of four diverse ecoregions (Sierra Nevada, Mojave Desert, the Central Valley, and South Coast) only add to its significance in protecting biodiversity in the western US.

The protection of this immense area ensures that 28 sensitive species across California have the best chance of survival.

“What is striking about the Randall Preserve and this area of the Tehachapis is not only its rugged beauty, but also its unique topography. It goes from these very high elevations where you can see snow, all the way down to the Mojave desert and the Central Valley, and everything in between,” said Mike Sweeney, Executive Director of The Nature Conservancy in California. “This preserve will also ensure a much-needed corridor for wildlife, like endangered mountain lions to the south, so they can mix and move, migrate and adapt.”

“Preserving open space has long been a passion of ours,” said Frank Randall. “Once it’s gone, it’s gone. This area was under threat, but together with The Nature Conservancy, we’re doing everything we can to make sure this beautiful and ecologically diverse part of our state can stand the test of time for generations to come.”

Golden eagle on the Randall Preserve

According to information on the Nature Conservancy website, Frank and Joan connected over a love of adventure and, after they were married, they went on to travel extensively, finding natural wonders from Antarctica to Tahiti. But as time went on, what they saw was troubling. “In my lifetime I have witnessed massive changes in the state of nature,” Frank said, “and time is not on our side.”

Throughout his career in commercial real estate development, Frank recognized the importance of preserving open space. He specialized in redeveloping malls and other retail centers in already urbanized areas in and around Los Angeles. “The preservation of open space has long been a passion of mine,” he explained. “Buildings can be removed, but land is never the same once it’s built on. Once open space is lost, it’s really lost for good.”

With this understanding, Frank and Joan dedicated themselves to conserving natural lands and, in 2021, they championed the protection of what is now TNC’s largest California preserve. The Frank and Joan Randall Preserve at the Tehachapi Mountains, which covers over 70,000 acres (the size of five Manhattans).

“Nature is resilient,” Frank said, “and by protecting critical areas like this one, we can give it the chance to adapt to change. But we’re also giving ourselves a chance at a better future.”

In addition to the Randalls’ generosity and commitment to conservation, the creation of the preserve was also funded by public and private donors, including the Wildlife Conservation Board, The Department of The Navy, CalTrans, Resources Legacy Fund, Sierra Nevada Conservancy, and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, as well as other generous donors.

To learn more about the Frank and Joan Randall Preserve at the Tehachapi Mountains, please visit: www.nature.org/randall preserve.

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