Former Resident Helps Create Nature Preserve

First published in the Jan. 28 print issue of the South Pasadena Review.

By Jonathan Williams
The Review

Frank Randall, before growing up in South Pasadena, was auspiciously born on Earth Day. Later in life, he and wife Joan would continue to call Southern California their home.
In December, the nature and outdoors enthusiasts donated $50 million to help preserve it in a big way — by creating what will be the Nature Conservancy’s largest preserve in the state.
The Nature Conservancy recently announced the Frank and Joan Randall Preserve, which spans 72,000 acres or 112 square miles in the Tehachapi Mountains and connects four critical ecological regions in the Sierra Nevada, Mojave Desert, central valley and south coast. The preserve lies just 100 miles north of downtown Los Angeles and will protect some of California’s “most crucial wildlife and most biodiverse landscapes,” according to the conservancy.
“Open spaces are special, and once they’re gone, they’re forever gone,” Frank Randall said in a statement.
“We’ve already impacted our natural lands in ways we don’t even realize. We need to make sure the legacy we’re leaving behind for our children and grandchildren is one that incorporates wild areas, and nature, to ensure this planet will be resilient for generations to come.”
Frank Randall grew up an avid sailor and is a U.S. Navy veteran, ultimately retiring from the Naval Reserve as a lieutenant commander. Growing up, he spent much of his time as an avid backpacker and has covered nearly 250 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail.
He was also a stockbroker, starting his career in Reno, Nevada, and returned to the area after his father died. Ultimately, Frank Randall decided to stay in California and made his fortune in commercial real estate.
Joan Randall graduated from the University of Southern California with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and volunteered for the Environmental Nature Center and the Wetlands and Wildlife Care Center.
Together, the couple traveled to places such as Antarctica, Eastern Europe, Western Europe, Australia and Tahiti. Currently, they reside in Newport Beach and have a ranch near Warner Springs in San Diego County.
“We are in a race with climate change … with biodiversity loss … a race to ensure that people and nature can thrive on this planet,” Frank Randall said. “In my lifetime, I have witnessed massive changes in the state of nature and have seen open spaces disappear across Southern California. Time is not on our side. We need to act now. That’s why Joan and I are so excited to see this preserve come to fruition and to know we made every effort to ensure this special place will be here and in good hands now and into the future.”
The project was also funded by public and private donors, including the Wildlife Conservation Board, the U.S. Department of the Navy, Caltrans, Resources Legacy Fund, Sierra Nevada Conservancy and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. Frank and Joan Randall last year donated another $50 million to the Trust for Public Land to help protect the Banning Ranch area of wetlands and coastal bluffs in Newport Beach.
Mike Sweeney, the executive director of the Nature Conservancy in California and managing director of global fisheries, praised the Randalls for their efforts to preserve the Tehachapi region, described as “a critical piece of land that will promote the movement of wildlife between Northern California and Southern California.
“What is striking about the Randall Preserve and this area of the Tehachapis is not only its rugged beauty but also its unique topography,” said Sweeney in a statement.
“It goes from these very high elevations where you can see snow, all the way down to the Mojave Desert and the Central Valley, and everything in between. This preserve will also ensure a much-needed corridor for wildlife, like endangered mountain lions to the south, so they can mix and move, migrate and adapt.”
Cara Lacey, the director of the wildlife corridors and crossings team for the Nature Conservancy in California, said she started with the project in 2016 and remembers meeting the Randalls when they visited the site for the first time.
“They were very knowledgeable,” Lacey said. “They were stewards of the land and excited about the potential to protect something that could be so expansive, so large and to leave this amazing legacy. They were really kind and really sweet people. That was my impression of them. They realized they really wanted to fund the work here in this location.
“It’s really an absolutely special place,” she added. “It has a variety of diversity of plants, animals and everything converges here. If you take a look at this place, it’s beautiful. You’re just moving through this pastoral, picturesque landscape. It’s outstanding but until you actually get into it on the ground … being able to see this place is what really means the most to me.”