The hills are lush and green! Explore your backyard with Midpen docents, get the facts about forest ecology, learn about creek restoration and more.

There are three ways to enjoy the quarterly newsletter: flip through the online version, scroll below to read, or download a pdf.


Engaging Tomorrow’s Open Space Stewards

Local youth from the Student Conservation Association

Today’s youth are tomorrow’s leaders, tasked with protecting our natural environment in this challenging time of climate change. Midpen introduces local youth to nature, provides job training and opens doors to conservation careers by partnering with several nonprofit organizations.

San Jose Conservation Corps & Charter School helps young adults, aged 18-27, earn their high school diploma while receiving paid environmental job training. Recently, Corps members worked alongside Midpen staff to create a fuel break for improved wildfire safety in Windy Hill Open Space Preserve. During lunch, Midpen staff provided environmental education and shared stories about their paths to conservation careers. Corps members camped, many for the first time in their lives, at Midpen’s Black Mountain Backpack Camp.

The Student Conservation Association (SCA) is a national organization providing teens and young adults with hands-on outdoor work experience aimed at building conservation leadership and inspiring lifelong environmental stewardship. SCA students spent last summer in Midpen’s open space preserves learning technical skills by using digital devices to collect data for restoration projects and public maps.

It’s important to bring young voices, and their passion and energy, to the conservation table. They are the future of open space.


History Unfolds at Bear Creek Redwoods

Opening Soon!

Upper pond at Bear Creek Redwoods

Take a journey through time as you experience a classic California story and beautiful redwood forests at Bear Creek Redwoods Open Space Preserve. Shaped by the San Andreas Fault, the resources and beauty of this landscape first attracted native peoples, then loggers, socialites and scholars.

In the 1990s, developers drew up plans for a golf course and luxury homes. But thanks to the help of many partners, including significant funding from Peninsula Open Space Trust and the state, Midpen was able to protect it as public open space.

This spring, the preserve will be open for the public to explore and enjoy. Along with six miles of hiking and equestrian trails traversing the redwoods, new public access amenities include a self-guided interpretive walk along an ADA-accessible path around a historic pond. This short walk will take you on a journey to better understand how humans have both shaped this land and been shaped by it.

For the most up-to-date information including the grand opening date, visit the Bear Creek Redwoods Preserve Plan page.


A Message from the General Manager

Realizing Your Vision for Open Space with Measure AA

It has been almost five years since local voters reaffirmed their support for Midpen by passing Measure AA, a $300 million bond funding the community’s vision for public open space over 30 years.

To date, Midpen has invested approximately $48 million in Measure AA funds in 20 projects throughout the preserves. These include land purchases, trails, public access facilities, environmental restoration and agricultural infrastructure. Together, these projects improve the greenbelt’s ability to support life in our region.

More than 1,500 Measure AA-funded acres have been added to your public open space. They protect drinking water, create safe wildlife corridors and provide opportunities to expand and connect trail systems.

New public access areas include lower La Honda Creek Open Space Preserve and a soon-to-be-constructed section of the San Francisco Bay Trail in Ravenswood Open Space Preserve. These projects promote healthy living by connecting more people to open space and building community through a shared appreciation for nature.

Environmental restoration projects strengthen our region’s resilience to the effects of climate change by providing habitat for native plants and animals, sequestering carbon from the atmosphere and reducing the risk of catastrophic wildfire.

Improved grazing infrastructure on the San Mateo County coast sustains a long and proud ranching heritage. Well-managed grazing systems restore species-rich native grasslands and support spectacular wildflower blooms, providing an important food source for wildlife and native pollinators.

I invite you to visit our website and learn more about the incredible progress we have made in the nearly five years since you passed Measure AA; and see what is planned for the next 25 years. Better yet, visit the preserves and experience how your Measure AA contributions to public open space help make our region a remarkable place to live.

Ana María Ruiz,


General Manager


The Art and Science of Stream Channel Restoration

Creek restoration: before, during and afterCreating high-quality trails that enable people to explore open space is one of the things Midpen does best. Staff recently honed their skills at building a new type of path for nature: One that guides the flow of water. Stream channel restoration is the art and science of returning altered waterways to their natural course and function.

Recently, a perennial creek within Midpen’s vast Sierra Azul Open Space Preserve was reconnected to its many tributaries and now flows in its original channel for the first time in decades. Part of the headwaters of Los Gatos Creek, it had been dammed, forced into culverts and crisscrossed by dirt roads. The Santa Clara Valley Water District and Peninsula Open Space Trust partnered to preserve the creek’s steep, 117-acre canyon and transferred the property to Midpen in 2015.

Restoring the creek at the heart of the property’s diverse ecosystem was made possible through several partnerships. Santa Clara Valley Water District provided a $485,000 mitigation grant to enhance wildlife habitat and water quality. Midpen staff carefully removed sediment and man-made impediments from the creek channel, returning natural curves to its cobbled bed and rebuilding its banks. The nonprofit Grassroots Ecology and local youth from the San Jose Conservation Corps removed acres of invasive weeds, revegetated the area with more than 1,100 native plants and planted acorns, buckeyes and grass seed.

Today, the creek winds among stately white-barked sycamore and fragrant bay trees, giving life to a unique web of plants and animals. Rare Santa Cruz black and Pacific giant salamanders breed in its waters. Deer, bobcats, grey foxes and mountain lions visit to drink. At dusk, bats feast on insects above its surface.

Though the area is inaccessible to visitors, our community reaps many benefits. The preserved canyon and its restored creek provide scenic beauty, clean air and water, and the knowledge that within our urbanized midst there exist wild places returned to nature.


Grounded in Facts: Wildfire and Forest Ecology

Fire is a fact of life in California and plays a critical role in forest ecology. The combined effects of climate change and more than 150 years of extreme logging and fire suppression are creating a longer and more intense wildfire season. Midpen is expanding its efforts to meet these challenges.

This year, we’re embarking on new projects aimed at better managing second-growth forests to increase their health and resilience and to reduce fuel loads. Work will begin in La Honda Creek Open Space Preserve and expand to other preserves.

We’re also working to reintroduce periodic prescribed fire to the Peninsula’s land management toolbox. Prescribed fire is one of the most effective tools for fuel reduction and has been a part of local ecology for thousands of years. We invite you to join us at several upcoming community meetings to learn more and provide your input. Get the details at www.openspace.org/fire.

We continue coordinating with local fire agencies, training staff as first responders, maintaining hundreds of miles of fire roads and fuel breaks and expanding our conservation grazing program.

You play a critical role, too, by avoiding activities that could cause fires and making sure your home has adequate defensible space.

Photo: Paolo Vescia, courtesy of Peninsula Open Space Trust5-25 years
Frequency at which most California forests burned, before the arrival of Europeans, from lightning-caused wildfires or Native American burning practices. (Source: University of California, Berkeley)

12,000 acres
Grassland grazed to restore native plants and reduce fuel loads, brush and forest encroachment.

Dozens of native plants
Local species are adapted to periodic fire for seed dispersal or germination including redwoods, most manzanita, many California lilacs and others.

3 tons
Carbon removed from the atmosphere annually by one acre of old-growth redwoods, more carbon than any other known tree. (Source: Muir Woods National Monument)

20 households
Participated in Midpen’s Defensible Space Program by clearing vegetation around their homes and into neighboring preserves for fire safety.


2019 Digital Photo Contest

Continuing a long tradition of showcasing some of the Bay Area’s most beautiful subjects, our 10th annual photo contest is now open for entries! This year, fans can again vote for their favorite image on Facebook.

Categories: Landscapes, People in Nature, Plant Life, Wildlife and Aspiring Photographers (youth grades 6-12)

Prize: One winner in each category will receive a $100 REI gift card and a Midpen swag bag.

Entries: Contest runs March 1 - May 31, 2019. All photo submissions must be taken in areas of Midpen preserves that are open to the public.

Enter today!


Midpen Purchases Office Space

The Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District closed escrow on a larger office building February 1 for $31.5 million using general fund reserves. The 39,000-square-foot building is located near Midpen’s current Los Altos office, which was purchased in 1990.

Since voters created Midpen in 1972, the organization’s focus has grown from primarily acquiring land for preservation to a more balanced delivery of the mission that also includes environmental restoration, opening land for public enjoyment and education and supporting sustainable agriculture on the San Mateo County coast. Midpen has been leasing additional office space since 2013 to accommodate this growth.

As a forward-thinking and fiscally prudent public agency, Midpen has been planning for its long-term office space needs by setting aside general fund reserves over time for this purpose. After exploring alternatives, purchasing and remodeling a larger office building and selling the current building emerged as the most cost-efficient and environmentally sound, long-term solution. Measure AA bond funds are restricted for open space land and agricultural preservation, restoration and public access, and were not used to purchase the building. The cost of the building will be offset by selling the current office, no longer leasing additional space and renting space in the newly purchased building not needed in the near term.

The public is invited to an informational meeting at Midpen’s current office to learn more about the newly purchased building and participate in a study session with Midpen’s Board of Directors to review preliminary plans for necessary building code upgrades and space reconfigurations.

Informational Meeting
Wednesday, March 13, 2019 at 6 p.m. 
330 Distel Circle, Los Altos CA

Learn More


Explore Your Backyard with Free Outings in March

Get outside and explore the forest canopy, tap into the healing powers of nature, explore the lifecycles of native plants, and more with dozens of free seasonal hikes and activities led by Midpen docent naturalists. 

Fremont Older House Tours
Sunday, April 28, 2019
Fremont Older Preserve

Each Spring, the historic Woodhills home in Fremont Older Open Space Preserve is open one day for public tours. Reservations open March 28.

See all outings