The San Francisco Bay Area is bejeweled with hundreds of parks and open space preserves as well as a rich set of laws and policies meant to ensure the survival of vulnerable species and ecosystems. Real people made this happen through a dedicated call to stewardship.

Hit the Trail and Lend a Hand

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It doesn’t take much to enjoy a well-built trail, but it takes a lot of elbow grease to actually build one. From the logistical nightmares of avoiding washouts, poison oak, and sensitive resources to the deceptively simple question of where … Read more

Sibley Campground Controversy

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At a January 2006 meeting, the East Bay Regional Park District (EBRPD) Board of Directors approved the Land Use Plan Amendment for Robert Sibley Volcanic Regional Preserve after first removing the plan’s controversial campground provision. The board received volumes of … Read more

Altering the ESA

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In October 2005 the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill that, if approved by the Senate and signed into law, would dramatically alter the 1973 Endangered Species Act (ESA). Sponsored by local Congressman Richard Pombo (R-Tracy), the bill would … Read more

Breuner Marsh Stewardship

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Some people inherit china, but Whitney Dotson has inherited a marsh. He doesn’t actually own Breuner Marsh, the 238-acre tidal marsh adjacent to Point Pinole Regional Shoreline in northern Richmond, but he has taken on its stewardship. “We are the … Read more

New Golf Course in Menlo Park

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After hearing testimony from 89 speakers, bleary-eyed Menlo Park city council members voted 3 to 2 on November 1 to move forward with plans for a public golf course in the heart of Menlo Park’s only open space. Converted from … Read more

Conservation Easements Around the State

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California leads the nation in the number of land trusts, with over 150. Similar to their Bay Area counterparts, land trusts throughout the state use conservation easements to protect a wide range of natural resources, from forests to farmland to … Read more

Livermore Valley

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Along Tesla Avenue at the south edge of Livermore, rows of grapevines angle from the roadside, showing a trace of fall color on their taut wires. Almost within earshot of the bustle of town, it’s the kind of place you’d … Read more

People and Easements

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From a modern house on a knoll in the Nicasio Valley, Randy Lafranchi, fifth-generation Marin County dairyman and second-generation easement partner, surveys his family’s domain. Most of its 1,200 acres, from ridgetop to county road to water district reservoir, lie … Read more

Private Land, Public Good

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How do you preserve significant parcels of open space in an era of rising land prices and shrinking public budgets? In the 1990s, more Bay Area land was protected using conservation easements, where the owner can stay on the land but gives up development rights, than by outright purchase. Though not without their critics, easements are reshaping the way we go about saving our local landscapes.

San Mateo Coast

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South of San Francisco, the Peninsula displays a kind of natural zoning-by-topography. On the east side, along the Bay, is where most people live. To the west is a chain of lofty, forested hills, the Santa Cruz Mountains; farther west … Read more