East Bay water district considers buying giant cattle ranch that straddles four counties

The Alameda County Water District is considering shelling out $72 million for a fourth-generation, 50,500-acre cattle ranch — touted as the largest potential land sale in the state — to preserve water quality, officials say.

Much of the property lies in watersheds that feed into critical water supply facilities for millions of Bay Area residents, including Lake Del Valle, Calaveras Reservoir and Alameda Creek.

While no final decisions have been made, district officials and experts say the rare opportunity to buy such a wide swath of undeveloped upstream land — and preclude any future development that could degrade potable water — must be seriously weighed.

The N3 Cattle Co. ranch is roughly the size of Fremont. It’s located east of Fremont, Milpitas and San Jose, south of Livermore, and stretches into parts of Alameda, Santa Clara, San Joaquin and Stanislaus counties.

The fourth-generation ranching family that owns the property put it on the market in July for the first time in 85 years.

“This beautiful and expansive California property spans 50,500 acres through four counties, making it the largest land offering in the State of California,” says the website of California Outdoor Properties, a private brokerage firm managing the land sale.

Read more from Joseph Geha with East Bay Times here.