After four decades of preserving open space in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties, the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District (MROSD) is undertaking a vision planning process, that will guide its work for the next 15-20 years.
Having preserved nearly 62,000 acres of land, the District is now looking not only to protect open space, but also maximize the use of its existing preserves, said Kirk Lenington, MROSD Natural Resources Manager.
“We’ve been around for 40 years and we’ve accomplished a lot,” he said. “So we wanted to look forward to the future and plan our priorities.”
Of course, the term “planning process” may not evoke excitement, but the district is reaching out and encouraging the public to get involved, either in person or online, and help shape the future of open space.
The planning process, Imagine the Future of Open Space, began earlier this year with an approach combining public input with scientific research. A volunteer Community Advisory Committee then developed five broad themes—stewardship, protecting cultural and scenic landscapes, public access and outdoor recreation, outdoor education, and working lands/agriculture—and corresponding priority actions.
“Our outdoor education theme was created in response to what we heard from the public,” Lenington said. “People want more than just the ability to go out and hike; they want to learn more and so we’re looking to offer increased opportunities for people to attend interpretive hikes or volunteer.”
The future planning process is once again open to the public through a series of regional workshops.
“The meetings are regional and will focus on that particular area,” said Shelly Lewis, public affairs manager at MROSD. “So the themes at each workshop will be the same but people’s thoughts will be different.”
The first public workshop was held in Half Moon Bay earlier this week. Lenington said the project that got the most support was the completion of the Purisima to the Sea trail, which will connect Purisima Creek Redwoods Open Space Preserve with the coast.
Following the workshops, the Community Advisory Committee will collate the public input from the workshops and reconvene to compile future priority actions. Lenington estimates this will include anywhere from 40-50 projects, some of which will be funded through MROSD’s general funds.
“We will also be looking at alternate funding sources such as grants and possibly a future bond measure,” said Shelly Lewis. “But none of that will be decided until we know the outcome of vision plan and what the public is looking for in their open space.”
The remaining public workshops will be held from October 28- November 16. Please visit the website for more details.