SANTA ROSA -- Pepperwood Preserve and the Dwight Center for Conservation Science of Santa Rosa, a 3,117-acre nature preserve located in northeastern Sonoma County, today announced it received a gift of $1 million from San Francisco private investor Jean-Pierre L. Conte.

"This is a very generous gift from Mr. Conte, a long-time supporter of the environment and the advancement of conservation science," said Dr. Lisa Micheli, executive director of Pepperwood Preserve. "Because of his generosity we will now be able to better protect this stunning sanctuary and expand our research and education programs to reach greater numbers of people throughout the San Francisco Bay Area."

Mr. Conte said maintaining the beauty and environmental quality of the Bay Area for generations to come is a "terrific way to leave a family legacy."

"One of my passions is to ensure that my children and grandchildren will have the opportunity to enjoy our inspiring natural heritage," he said.

Pepperwood Preserve was originally established as a scientific nature reserve in 1979 when the 3,200-acre parcel located in the Mayacamas range of Sonoma County was gifted by the Kenneth Bechtel family to the California Academy of Sciences.

The Pepperwood Foundation, created by Herb and Jane Dwight, took over stewardship of the property in 2005 in partnership with the Academy and in 2010 opened the new 9400-square foot Dwight Center for Conservation Science. Pepperwood features multidisciplinary environmental education programs for all ages and hosts long-term university research initiatives focused on how to conserve Northern California's biodiversity in the face of climate change.

The Conte family will be honored with a naming ceremony this April for the Dwight Center's central courtyard, which will now be known as Conte Court.

Tax-deductible contributions can be made at the organization's website,