Redwoods and sunlight at La Honda Creek Preserve

Small Purchase, Big Impact

(Allen Ishibashi)

A small purchase with big benefits for coastal creeks, future trail connections and narrowing the gap to physically join Midpen’s La Honda Creek and El Corte de Madera Creek open space preserves finalized on December 20, 2023, nearly a year after Midpen’s board of directors approved the purchase of this 97-acre addition to the La Honda Creek Preserve from a local family.

The steep, wooded property on the western slope of Skyline Ridge is nearly all redwood forest. Within its understory, the headwaters of La Honda Creek originate and flow year-round, eventually joining San Gregorio Creek and flowing out to the Pacific Ocean. San Gregorio Creek, federally listed as impaired due to sediment, is one of only a few waterways remaining on the San Mateo County Coastside where both endangered coho salmon and threatened steelhead trout are still able to spawn.

Midpen and our partner, the San Mateo Resource Conservation District, have put many years of work into reducing sediment and restoring the creeks within this watershed, including reintroducing anadromous fish in San Gregorio Creek and installing woody debris to provide them with needed habitat to spawn.

“The concept of a healthy watershed starts at the headwaters. Everything that happens there has an impact downstream,” Midpen Senior Planner Meredith Manning said. “Because this property is at the headwaters of La Honda Creek, which flows to the sediment-impaired San Gregorio Creek, Midpen now has even more ability to help restore both waterways.”

In the past, the property had been used as an unofficial motorcycle course, however, the current owners invested approximately $450,000 to rehabilitate the land and improve drainage, including resurfacing old logging roads with rock and installing culverts and retaining walls to reduce erosion of sediment into the creek. 

SMCR staff reintroducing coho salmon to the watershed

“The roads have been improved to the caliber that Midpen’s own land and facilities staff would implement,” Midpen Real Property Specialist Jasmine Leong said. “This road improvement provides one of the most efficient and beneficial ways to reduce sedimentation in the creek from headwaters to the Pacific Ocean, the entirety of which is important habitat for fish and other aquatic plants and animals.”

This purchase is made possible through Measure AA, a $300 million general obligation bond measure passed by local voters in 2014 to support Midpen’s community-supported vision plan projects, which include efforts to protect and restore habitat in La Honda Creek Preserve.

Now that Midpen has taken ownership, a future planning process will explore opportunities for trail connections between the two preserves. In the meantime, wildlife, coastal waterways and redwood forests benefit from permanent protection.

“The greenbelt is most valuable when it’s connected. It’s not just about protecting the greenbelt, it’s increasingly about connecting the greenbelt.” —Midpen Senior Resource Specialist Julie Andersen

This story originally ran in the spring 2023 issue of Midpen's quarterly print newsletter, Views. It was updated in January 2024, shortly after the sale was finalized. 

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