With the passage of Measure AA this past June, all of us at Midpen have been thinking about more and better ways to connect with our constituents. With increased expectations about preserving and protecting open space and creating new public access opportunities, it is essential that we who manage the preserves understand what you are thinking about, what we do, and how we are doing it. Starting now and continuing over the next few years, we will be developing new capacities to both act on those expectations and connect with the public who fund Midpen. You may notice some changes such as improved access to our website, clearly signed preserve entrances, new staging areas and trails leading from them, and more community events. We will be making a concerted and sustained effort to reach out and connect with old and new preserve users and better understand the needs of the rich diversity of communities and backgrounds that characterizes our area. Since the District covers an area of 550 square miles, this is no small task, but it is an essential one if we are to be responsive to you, the public.
At the same time, the work that will be accomplished through Measure AA funding will serve a second constituency, one that I’ve referred to as “the smaller majority.” These constituents evolved with the landscape and are essential to its health and ours and, of course, they are the plants, animals and other living things that bring life to the preserves. The work we have been doing, and can now accomplish on a much broader scale, is aimed at preserving and protecting more of the magnificent redwood forests, restoring the function of the streams so that steelhead and Coho salmon can once again spawn in those cool redwood drainages, and creating new, permanent wildlife corridors so that mountain lions, grey foxes, skunks, and all wildlife can move through the landscape and not be struck by automobiles or vanished with habitat that could have been saved. We will be increasing livestock grazing to manage the grasslands that evolved with grazing animals to ensure that we are maximizing the grasslands’ ability to take carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and store it. And the way we will do this will always have the overarching goal of protecting the inhabitants of those grasslands so that decisions about how much grass the livestock eat and how much water they drink will ensure that the displays of wildflowers, the red-legged frog, the San Francisco garter snake, the badger, the grasshopper sparrow, the callippe fritillary, and so many more all thrive.
As we move forward, we intend to serve both constituencies well. The focus on you, the public, and “the smaller majority”, is a long-term commitment we at Midpen have made. We will find new ways to reach out to you so we can hear how we’re doing and improve our service. And we will also listen carefully for the din of the chorus frogs, the yapping of the coyotes, and the soothing song of the tree cricket to be sure that we are hearing them as well.
Stephen E. Abbors