Future of Bidwell Ranch Uncertain

Oct 2, 2013 8:27 PM

Many consider Bidwell Ranch a jewel in the city of Chico.

But the property, which sits adjacent to Bidwell Park and Wildwood Park, is also the subject of controversy.

It’s owned by the city, but it's not open to the public.

If you look around Bidwell Ranch, there are hundreds of acres of untouched and, literally.

Nobody is allowed in right now, with the exception of some grazing cattle.

Some people are OK with that.

“You're just looking at a natural state, just pristine habitat,” said lifelong Chico resident Danny Zepeda. I hope my kids get to see it without any development or anything.”

Zepeda grew up doing things on the ranch.

His best friend was a member of the Brown family, and this land used to be Brown Ranch.

They would ride bikes and motorcycles, but then one day, the friends had a daunting realization:

“We always thought one of these days, this is all going to be houses, and sure enough development is moving closer and closer to the foothills,” Zepeda said.

So Zepeda would like to see the land untouched and left as is. Friends of Bidwell Park agree.

“It's just flat out open space, and as we get larger, those kinds of places get more and more valuable,” said John Merz, a member of Friends of Bidwell Park.

“We just want it to get done. I mean we're all getting a little grayer by the day,” Merz said.

Action News Now did reach out to various departments within the city of Chico to get an idea of the future of Bidwell ranch, with no calls back.

But later in the day, Action News Now spoke with Chico City Council Member Randall Stone. He said selling the land is out of the question, mainly because the city's deficit problem isn't going to be solved with one-time deals.

The city purchased the land (750 acres) for four million dollars in 1996.


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