ANTIOCH -- Another 960 acres of grazing land is being acquired for the future Deer Valley Regional Park between Antioch and Brentwood.
The East Bay Regional Park District board approved a deal Tuesday to pay $5.4 million for the grasslands and oak forests at the end of Briones Valley Road some 2.5 miles south of Antioch.
The land, called Dainty Ranch, is just southwest of the 1,885-acre Roddy Ranch land that the park board has already approved an option to buy.
With the two purchases, the regional park system will own some 3,000 acres or nearly 5 square miles to form the core of the Deer Valley Regional Park.
"We are rapidly assembling key pieces to provide a whole new park in an area that has not been served by the regional park district," said Liz Musbach, the district's land acquisition chief.
The park will provide hiking and other low-key public recreation, and protect habitat for the California red-legged frog and other rare species. The land has a link in the route for a trail planned to connect Black Diamond Regional Mines Preserve and the new Marsh Creek State Park.
Park officials said they expect to complete the purchase by the park district by July 2014. To make that happen, the park district and East Contra Costa Habitat Conservancy will seek state and federal funds to cover the bulk of the purchase cost, Musbach said.
Park officials don't know when the new park will open because they first must study, plan and fund gates, parking space, and other public use facilities.
The Dainty Ranch property is being sold by a trust for Anna Mae Diffin Smith. The grazing land was acquired in 1872 by James Ball Dainty, a rancher who once mined coal in the Somersville coal mining area in the hills between Antioch and Pittsburg.
Contact Denis Cuff at 925-943-8267. Follow him at Twitter.com/deniscuff