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The latest news and information about the District and Preserves.

New General Manager

Ana María Ruiz appointed to lead the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District

Los Altos, CA— The Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District’s board of directors appointed Ana María Ruiz as the organization’s new general manager at their regular public meeting last night. The decision follows a competitive national recruitment.

Ruiz is Midpen’s fourth general manager to lead the public agency that was created by voters in 1972. She has been rising through the ranks of the organization for 20 years, earning the role of acting general manager after Steve Abbors retired in December.

“Ana María Ruiz is a trailblazer, and the right person to lead Midpen through this time of transition,” said Midpen’s Board President Jed Cyr. “Ana provides the stability and focus needed to ensure a balanced delivery of our mission. She has an incredible understanding of the organization, a keen analytical mind and passion for stewarding public open space and connecting diverse communities to nature.”

As General Manager, Ruiz oversees the successful implementation of the organization’s mission and vision plan by more than 170 staff. This includes completing new public access facilities and land conservation projects to meet Midpen’s commitments under the 2014 voter-approved Measure AA.  Ruiz will also place great emphasis in strengthening existing partnerships and creating new coalitions to engage surrounding communities in the stewardship and protection of local open space lands and the unique natural resources that make the Bay Area so special.

Ruiz began her career with Midpen as a planning technician in 1998, working her way up to planning department manager in 2009 and becoming assistant general manager in 2013. She holds a bachelor’s degree in geological and environmental sciences from Stanford University and a master’s degree in urban and regional planning from San Jose State University. She is a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners, and recently completed the Santa Clara County Leadership Academy and California Local Governance Summer Institute at Stanford University. She lives in Mountain View with her family.

Proposition 68 - Parks, Environment and Water Bond

On June 5 California voters approved Proposition 68, the California Drought, Water, Parks, Climate, Coastal Protection, and Outdoor Access For All Act of 2018, with 56% of the vote (65% in Santa Clara County and 66% in San Mateo County). Proposition 68 includes $2.83 billion for parks and natural resources, $720 million for water resources, and $550 million for flood protection, including $200 million for local parks to be distributed on a per capita basis throughout California so that all communities benefit.

Midpen’s Board of Directors endorses Proposition 68, a statewide parks and water bond, on the June 5 ballot. Prop 68 would authorize $4 billion in bonds for a wide range of projects across urban, suburban and rural California aimed at drinking water and drought protection, wildlife and natural resource conservation, climate resilience and park access for all.

Proposition 68 includes significant grant funding for parks and open space projects that Midpen, and many of our regional partners, are well-positioned to compete for. These funds could help facilitate the completion of Midpen’s Measure AA projects, including:

  • Partner to Complete Middle Stevens Creek Trail
    Portfolio #12, Peninsula and South Bay Cities
  • Wildlife Passage and Bay Area Ridge Trail Improvements
    Portfolio #20, South Bay Foothills
  • Loma Prieta Area Public Access, Regional Trails, and Habitat Projects
    Portfolio #25, Sierra Azul

Specific Funding Allocations for the Bay Area

  • $21.25 million for San Francisco Bay Conservancy Program (Coastal Conservancy)
  • $20 million for restoration grants to match Measure AA (Coastal Conservancy)
  • $14 million for the Ocean Protection Trust Fund (Coastal Conservancy)
  • County, city, and special district funding for local parks (per capita and other programs)
  • $3 million for Los Gatos Creek and Upper Guadalupe River (Natural Resources Agency)
  • $3 million for Russian River (Natural Resources Agency)

Summary of Funding Categories with Bay Area Eligibility

State and Local Parks, Greenways, and River Parkways

  • $725 million for the creation and expansion of parks in “park-poor neighborhoods”
  • $290 million in funding for local parks (per capita and other programs)
  • $218 million in funding to “create, expand...and improve state parks and park facilities”
  • $30 million for trail and greenway investments (Natural Resources Agency)
  • $25 million for recreational programs and parks in rural communities (State Parks)

Ocean, Bay, and Coastal Protection

  • $20 million for coastal forests
  • $35 million for marine protected areas and sustainable fisheries
  • $5 million for coastal dune, wetlands, and estuary protection
  • $30 million for “lower cost coastal accommodation grants”
  • $75 million for California Ocean Protection Trust Fund

Climate Preparedness, Habitat Resiliency, Resource Enhancement, and Innovation

  • $443 million to various agencies including:
    - $48 million for wildlife corridors & open space (Wildlife Conservation Board)
    - $115 million for fishery and riparian restoration projects (Dept. of Fish and Wildlife)
    - $60 million for agricultural land conservation and stewardship (Dept. of Conservation)
    - $50 million for “for ecological restoration of forests” including urban forests (CalFire)

* A statewide funding program that could benefit the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District

More Information

For complete information on Proposition 68, visit Ballotpedia.org.

Mount Umunhum Trail earns national recognition

Los Altos, CA— Mount Umunhum Trail in the Sierra Azul Open Space Preserve is one of 19 trails across the country, and the only one in California, to be designated a national recreation trail this year, ahead of National Trails Day June 2. Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District, the public agency managing the trail and preserve, also received an award of excellence in park planning from the California Park and Recreation Society for new public access at Mount Umunhum.

“Planning, building and maintaining great trails that provide the public with an enjoyable experience in nature, and withstand the test of time, is something Midpen staff work very hard at and take a lot of pride in,” said Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District's Acting General Manager Ana Ruiz. “It’s an art informed by science.”

Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District staff designed and built the 3.7-mile trail as part of new public access to Mount Umunhum that opened last fall. The trail offers a gentle climb to the summit of one of the highest peaks in the Bay Area for hikers, bicyclists and equestrians. It passes through chaparral, under the canopy of pine and oak woodlands and over the headwaters of Guadalupe Creek offering views of the valley below, ridgelines above and nearby peaks along the way. The trail emerges near Mount Umunhum’s rocky summit, where interpretive signs and weather shelters help visitors discover local history, rare plants and wildlife and 360-degree views of the region.

The Mount Umunhum Trail is the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District’s first to be designated a national recreation trail, however all of its trails are built with the same high standards of quality, attention to the environment and visitor experience. Midpen provides more than 225 miles of trail to the community in 24 open space preserves throughout the South Bay, Peninsula and San Mateo County Coast areas that are free and open to the public daily. Docents lead free year-round hikes and activities to connect the public with these trails and nature.

The National Recreation Trails Program includes more than 1,000 trails, and is administered by the National Park Service and the U.S. Forest Service with partners including American Trails.

Summer Newsletter

What's happening in the preserves this summer

Read all about it in our quarterly Views newsletter.

Temporary Public Access Closures

Due to ongoing maintenance and monitoring activities around the radar tower, the following areas at Mount Umunhum are temporarily closed:

  • The area surrounding the base of the radar tower and pathways leading to the area
  • The hiking only section of the Mount Umunhum Trail between the East Summit and Trailhead Shelter Area

The Mount Umunhum parking lot, trailhead shelter, stairs to the summit, west loop trail, summit shelter and trail to the Bald Mountain staging area all remain open.

Temporary Closure Area

In November 2017, small flakes of paint containing low levels of lead were discovered near the Mount Umunhum radar tower. Out of an abundance of caution for the safety of the public, the area surrounding the base of the radar tower and pathways leading to the area are temporarily closed to public access.

More Information

  • Rain and wind events in November 2017 appear to have caused small flakes of paint to shed off the radar tower. These paint chips were tested and found to contain low levels of lead.
  • Lead was a common additive used in paint before the 1980s throughout the country, when the former Almaden Air Force Station was active.
  • The former air force station site, including the radar tower, underwent comprehensive abatement and remediation work prior to the construction of the public access improvements.  This work included the removal of peeling paint from the radar tower and the application of a sealant.  Prior to opening to the public the tower was also painted with an anti-graffiti coating on the first floor.  However, it appears that the remnant lead-containing paint that originally was adhered to the structure is now flaking off.  For this reason, Midpen is taking the precaution of closing the area surrounding the radar tower to ensure the safety of the public visiting the summit area.
  • A subsequent project to re-assess the radar tower and identify any additional repairs, to seal and retain the structure over the longer term, will take place over the next couple of years.  There may be closures during this future work as well.

Conservation Canines at Work

Conservation canine and handler in action. Photo: Jaymi HeimbuchFrom November 12th through the end of January 2018, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) will be conducting a mountain lion population study in Midpen preserves and surrounding areas. This work is part of a state-wide effort and will involve the use of “Conservation Canines” – dogs that are specially trained to find lion scat (droppings). This is a new method being tested in the area for estimating the size of mountain lion populations. Scat samples can be used to identify individual lions and determine certain health characteristics.

Dogs and handlers will both be identifiable by their bright orange vests with visible Conservation Canine patches. Dogs will be on a leash at all times and will wear a bell to let both the public and wildlife know they are in the immediate area. Signs will also be posted at trailheads when the Conservation Canines are working in the area. Teams may be observed off trail and in areas of the preserves where dogs are not allowed – these dogs are are specially trained to reduce impacts to natural resources, and are operating under a special Fieldwork permit issued to CDFW. 

For specific questions about this research project contact Justin Dellinger at 916-261-3610

For more information about the Conservation Canine program, visit their website at www.conservationcanines.org.

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