Now there’s a new way to support wildlife habitat, farmland, and public recreation in the Bay Area. The Nature Within Reach license plate will generate funds for Bay Area open space, just as whale-tail plates raise money for statewide coastal programs. The San Francisco Bay Area Conservancy, an arm of the state Coastal Conservancy, hopes that sales of the plates will raise $1 million a year for its programs. “The Coastal Conservancy is bond-funded,” says Amy Hutzel, the conservancy’s Bay Area program manager. But bonds run out and renewing them is not easy. “The license plate funds will give us an ongoing, dependable source of support that will enable us to make long-term plans.” The Bay Conservancy is among the largest sources of funding for conservation in the Bay Area, and since 1997 it has funded over 230 projects, including creek restoration, trail building, and protection of open space through purchase and easement.
To get off the ground, the license-plate program needs 7,500 paid pledges by summer 2009. The plates cost $50 above the standard fee initially and $40 annually to renew. You can order your plates at bayarealicenseplate.org. If you’re ahead of the pack and have ditched your car, you can still contribute through the Bay Area Open Space Council at openspacecouncil.org.