This month brings one extra leap day, what will you do with it?
Read on to discover what you might see in the preserves in February, learn about ongoing projects, find out about upcoming activities and events and get updates from recent public meetings.
Vistas for Valentine's: Seven Breathtaking Views
Taking your valentine hiking, biking or horseback riding in a Midpen preserve is a romantic (and free) way to celebrate your love for each other and nature. Whether you are first-timers or experienced outdoor enthusiasts, here are magical vistas you can enjoy with that special someone.
February Fungus Findings
Winter rains bring an explosion of mushrooms onto the forest floor of many preserves. Look closely and you may find a wide variety of mushroom species growing around tree trunks, decaying wood, and shaded areas of both forests and grasslands.
The multitude of fungi are amazing, but some are deadly poisonous. To protect and preserve the natural environment, we do not allow visitors to pick mushrooms or any other plants in our preserves. When you find mushrooms, please leave them undisturbed so that fungivores, such as banana slugs, wood rats, deer and insects, can enjoy them as a meal.
Beautiful Baby Blues
A rare blue-eyed coyote was recently caught — on a wildlife camera — in Rancho San Antonio Preserve. Coyotes usually have golden-brown eyes but there have been a few sightings of blue-eyed ones in Point Reyes, Santa Cruz and Sacramento. You can find out more about this genetic mutation in the articles from Smithsonian Magazine and National Geographic Magazine.
Watch Out for Newts!
It's migration and breeding season for the California newt and you might see them in large groups crossing Midpen trails and local roadways, especially during rain and heavy fog. If you see any newts when you're out on the preserves you can report your observations using iNaturalist.org.
Plants of the Month
Removing invasive plants and weeds is a large part of the restoration work Midpen does on our public lands. This can be challenging, since some invasive species look similar to California natives. See this month's set of look-alikes, to find out if you can tell the difference.
Help us restore the natural landscape!
Join us at an Outdoor Service Project to help remove invasive plants from Midpen preserves. No experience or long-term commitment is required — we provide the tools and training. It's a great way to spend the morning in open space (projects last about 4.5 hours), while giving back to the land. Registration is now open for dates in February and March.
Ravenswood Bay Trail
Midpen’s Ravenswood Bay Trail project illustrates the delicate balance of connecting people to nature with trails while protecting the natural resources. To avoid the breeding season of the endangered Ridgeway’s rail, construction activity that takes place along the Cooley Marsh is limited to September 1 to January 31. We recently completed work in this sensitive area — an important milestone in our work to close a critical 0.6-mile gap that will connect 80 miles of continuous San Francisco Bay Trail:
- Created two new refuge islands to provide a safe space for wildlife during high tides
- Replanted three transition zones along the marsh with native plants as a buffer against rising sea levels
- Built a portion of the raised boardwalk trail
- Paved the existing trail within Ravenswood Preserve
Ravenswood Preserve is now open. The new boardwalk remains closed until construction is complete, as work continues extending the boardwalk west to connect Ravenswood Preserve to University Avenue. For your safety, please respect all closure signs. The new Ravenswood Bay Trail connection and boardwalk is scheduled to open in mid-summer.
One Down, Two to Go!
Thanks to a $3 million Prop 68 grant from the California Natural Resources Agency made possible by Senator Jim Beall, the first of three watershed improvement and public access projects at Midpen's new Bear Creek Redwoods Preserve is finished. Projects like this ensure our watershed stays healthy and reestablishes natural water flows into adjacent Briggs Creek which feeds Lexington Reservoir. We would also like to thank California voters who passed Prop 68 in 2018!
Rancho San Antonio Access Study Update
Thanks to everyone who responded to our Rancho San Antonio parking survey; we appreciate and value your feedback! Results will be available later this summer as part of the study. We understand parking and traffic can be challenging at Rancho San Antonio, especially during peak times, but there are ways you can help.
- Use a ride app — less time circling means more time enjoying nature! There's a new hassle-free designated pickup and drop-off area next to the restrooms in the main parking area off Cristo Rey Drive.
- Ride your bike — we’ve installed additional bike racks at the entrance and near Deer Hollow Farm.
Free Outdoor Activities!
Get outside and join our docent naturalists this month for a FREE guided hike. Look for local mushrooms on a steep trek at Purisima Creek Redwoods, explore the newly opened Oljon Trail or visit Ravenswood Preserve to learn about bayland birding. Whether you're a veteran hiker or new to the trails, there's sure to be something new to experience!
Celebrating Women in the Outdoors
Saturday, February 8 at 5 p.m.
Join us and our friends at Peninsula Open Space Trust at this free event to hear from four incredible woman leaders in the local conservation movement — including Midpen General Manager Ana Ruiz. They'll share what inspires them and the personal journey that has led them to this work. Guests will also have a chance to meet representatives from a variety of environmental nonprofits from the area and enjoy free snacks, beer and non-alcoholic beverages.
Coexisting with Cougars
Thursday, March 12 at 6 p.m.
More than half of California—including most of undeveloped San Mateo and Santa Clara counties — is prime mountain lion habitat. Join us at Hidden Villa to learn how to stay safe in mountain lion habitat. The free, 45-minute presentation will also provide an overview of mountain lion biology, habitat, current research and how Midpen responds to mountain lion encounters. Reservations required.
Wild & Scenic Film Festival
Saturday, April 4 at 6:30 p.m.
Join us to see the best and brightest in environmental and adventure films. Presented with Peninsula Open Space Trust, these films highlight important aspects of Midpen's work in conservation and responsible land management. Tickets are free - get yours today!
Board Meeting Updates
Science Advisory Panel: In January, the Midpen board of directors selected the first topics for scientific review by our new Science Advisory Panel:
- Monitoring changes in plant and animal populations
- Balancing natural resource protection and ecologically-sensitive public enjoyment and education
- Conservation grazing benefits and impacts.
The panel will provide independent, science-based review of key issues and serve as a resource for future land management decisions. Find out more about the panel.
Upcoming Public Meetings
- February 2: Measure AA Bond Oversight Committee Meeting
- February 6: La Honda Public Access Working Group Meeting
- February 12: Board of Directors Meeting
- February 26: Board of Directors Meeting
- February 27: Measure AA Bond Oversight Committee Meeting
Meeting agendas are posted online 72 hours before the meeting.