A wildlife treasure, off limits for three decades, reopens Saturday... right here in our backyard.
Ball Ranch will reopen - after 30 years of being left alone... untouched.
It’s a big deal for fishermen and hikers alike.
The ranch is located on Friant Road along the San Joaquin River.
360 acres on the San Joaquin River...for scenic walking, picnicking, and fishing.
30 years ago... Ball Ranch was a fisherman's dream.
For John Salazar to hear it's reopening... well, the reminiscing says it all…
“To bring back the catfish I’m really excited about that because we like to eat fish,” said Salazar.
Back in the 80’s when farming and housing were booming... there was a lot of talk of turning the lush space into a golf course.
But the State of California acquired the land from the Ball family.
And it was out of the running for big developers
“All of this land is protected for conservation purposes,” said Sharon Weaver of the San Joaquin River Conservation Trust.
Sharon Weaver has been working on preserving the secret treasure for years.
“Right now there are Deer, Bobcats...the occasional mountain lion,” she said.
Finally she says, through a $20,000 grant from the Bureau of Reclamation, families get to appreciate it once again.
But why after 3 decades?
To restore salmon.
“They recognize there's going to be a need for more off stream fishing locations when there are salmon in the river,” said Weaver.
This is one pond where people can fish and not impact the salmon that'll be coming back.
And for sportsmen like Salazar to enjoy the outdoors…with the Fresno community.
“The kids really need something to do to stay off the streets and it's important because a lot of kids don't know how to fish,” said Salazar.
Weekends on the Ranch
Ball Ranch will open Saturday, February 23rd from to .
There's a $6 entry fee...
For now the plan is to keep the ranch open Saturdays and Sundays through June.
After that...it depends on funding.