LandPaths is donating a conservation easement over its 400-acre Riddell nature preserve, located in a remote area west of Healdsburg, to the county open space district.

Donation of the conservation easement, which involves a pledge to maintain the property in its natural state and to restrict usage, will allow the nonprofit environmental group to develop plans for limited public access, according to LandPaths director Craig Anderson.

Anderson told Sonoma County supervisors on Tuesday that LandPaths would establish docent-led tours and develop two campsites at the preserve. LandPaths is conducting a fundraising effort to pay for road improvements at the site, which is reachable only by an unpaved section of Brack Road, off of West Dry Creek Road.

The Riddell Preserve is one of the few sites actually owned by LandPaths, a 30-year-old nonprofit that coordinates public access programs to open space properties, largely under contract with public and private agencies.

"This is a different breed of cat. It is a nature-based property," Anderson said.

The property, consisting of oak woodlands, redwoods and open grasslands, was owned by the Riddell family for 40 years before it donated the land to LandPaths in April 2007. One of the deed restrictions required that LandPaths donate a conservation easement to a land conservation organization by 2012.

Development of cabins, campsites and hiking tours on the property will be limited under the conservation easement, said Sara Press, an associate planner for the Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District.

"It is challenging because you have to take a private road to get there and, hopefully, private donations (to LandPaths) will help us to get there," said Supervisor Paul Kelley, whose north county district includes the Riddell Preserve. "It is 400 acres in the midst of a spectacular area, but it is tough to get there."

You can reach Staff Writer Bleys W. Rose at 521-5431 or