The Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District is purchasing more than 600 acres on the southern edge of the city of Half Moon Bay following a vote by the district’s board of directors.

The 644 acres are part of an 868-acre Johnston Ranch property that features the James Johnston House, a well-known landmark visible from state Highway 1 that is open to the public for tours with docents. The land was purchased from the Peninsula Open Space Trust for $4.8 million to keep it protected as part of the district’s adjacent Miramontes Ridge Open Space Preserve.

The city of Half Moon Bay is planning for a pedestrian and bike trail that will connect its downtown to the Johnston House along Higgins Canyon Road and will continue to own the Johnston House.

POST purchased the land about 20 years ago after it was once proposed to be developed into a golf course and housing development, and will retain ownership of 224 acres of agricultural lands, according to the open space district.

“This acquisition is remarkable for our community and the entire Coastside, ensuring beautiful open space and farmland will forever be protected directly adjacent to our city,” Half Moon Bay Mayor Robert Brownstone said in a statement. “The generations to come will appreciate that action was taken today to safeguard this irreplaceable natural resource.”

Dan McMenamin is the managing editor at Bay City News, directing daily news coverage of the 12-county greater Bay Area. He has worked for BCN since 2008 and has been managing editor since 2014 after previously serving as BCN’s San Francisco bureau reporter. A UC Davis graduate, he came to BCN after working for a newspaper and nonprofit in the Davis area. He handles staffing, including coaching of our interns, day-to-day coverage decisions and management of the newswire.