The Cloverdale Ranch property is an ecological jewel on the San Mateo County Coast. Midpen approved the purchase of an approximately 6,300-acre portion of Cloverdale Ranch from our nonprofit partner, Peninsula Open Space Trust (POST) on December 10, 2022. When escrow closes on the first portion of the phased purchased, anticipated to be in June of 2023, Midpen will begin managing the property as its 27th public open space preserve.
Cloverdale Ranch Community Field Days
Creating a new Midpen preserve at Cloverdale Ranch will take time. In the interim, we are providing some guided access opportunities (in additon to the short, open Wilbur's Watch Trail). Get to know Midpen, our work on the Coastside and Cloverdale Ranch during Community Field Days at Cloverdale Ranch:
Saturdays, July 8 and 22 at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.
Midpen staff, including a Spanish-speaking Midpen ranger, and docent naturalists will guide you through coastal grasslands and highlight the rich community of plants and wildlife present in this open space, and the role of conservation grazing.
Reservations are required and will be accepted June 15 through July 6 at openspace.org/guided-activities.
Goals and Objectives
Midpen has been working on the San Mateo County Coastside since 2004 to protect open space, restore the natural environment and preserve working lands and rural character. To date, Midpen has preserved more than 11,000 acres of natural and agricultural lands on the Coast. The purchase of the Cloverdale Ranch uplands aligns with:
- Midpen's Coastside mission to acquire and preserve in perpetuity open space land and agricultural land of regional significance, protect and restore the natural environment, preserve rural character, encourage viable agricultural use of land resources, and provide opportunities for ecologically sensitive public enjoyment and education.
- Midpen's community-supported Vision Plan Portfolio #13 Cloverdale: Wildlife protection, conservation grazing and trail connections.
The property is made up of coastal terraces rising from the Pacific Ocean to the forested slopes of the Santa Cruz Mountains. The land includes large tracts of biologically rich coastal grassland and coastal scrub habitats and an abundance of water sources that support many rare grassland-dependent and aquatic species. Learn more:
Cloverdale Ranch is unique on the Coastside for its abundant water sources, both natural and man-made, which support habitats for many rare, threatened and endangered species while also supplying needed water for farmers. These include:
- Butano Creek provides water for farmers and habitat for steelhead and Coho salmon.
- Gazos Creek also provides steelhead and coho spawning grounds.
- Arroyo de los Frijoles (“Bean Hollow”) watershed contains three reservoirs that support farming and rare wetland habitats for wildlife. These constitute the Lake Lucerne Water System serving local farmers.
- Numerous ponds are found throughout the property.
Cloverdale Ranch uplands includes large tracts of biologically rich coastal grasslands, including some healthy stands of native grasses and wildflowers. Coastal grasslands are one of the most biodiverse and threatened ecosystems in North America.
Coastal grasslands evolved with, and benefit from, regular disturbance to prevent loss of biodiversity to introduced species, shrubs and forest. These disturbances were historically provided by grazing wildlife herds, natural fires and Native American burning practices. Later, the Coastside’s ranching history helped keep many of these grasslands undeveloped and prevented encroachment.
Cloverdale is rich in native plant and animals including rare special status species such as San Francisco garter snake, California red-legged frog, northern harrier, olive-sided flycatcher, loggerhead shrike, common yellowthroat, and grasshopper sparrow. Endangered marbled murrelets, a seabird that nests in old-growth trees, are known to reproduce in the Gazos Creek watershed and have been observed flying over the ranch.
Read more about endangered San Francisco garter snakes at Cloverdale here.
Over 600 different species of plants grow in and around Cloverdale Ranch, including in nearly 450 acres of sensitive natural communities like riparian forests and freshwater wetlands. Cloverdale is located along the Pacific flyway and experiences use by a number of migrating birds including burrowing owl (overwintering) and grasshopper sparrow. It also supports endemic/local bird species such as the savannah sparrow that make use of the perennial coastal grasslands.
Explore Cloverdale's rich water resources, native plant communities and wildlife in this OpenRoad segment:
Farming and Grazing
Like much of the San Mateo County Coast, Cloverdale has a rich agricultural heritage that continues today. The public-private partnership between Midpen and POST help preserve the Coastside's ranching and farming heritage, and locally grown food for the surrounding communities.
As Midpen takes ownership of the Cloverdale Ranch uplands in 2023, POST is retaining approximately 400 acres of surrounding working farmland and coastal bluffs, much of which is currently leased to farmers. Approximately 2,700 acres of the uplands area is actively grazed, and would be incorporated into Midpen’s conservation grazing program.
The existing Wilbur’s Watch Trail is open to the public, and traverses coastal grasslands from Highway 1 to a lookout point for viewing the coastline and Pigeon Point Lighthouse.
After Midpen completes the acquisition of a portion of Cloverdale Ranch in 2023, the public process to assess creating new trails while protecting the property’s sensitive natural resources will take time. A specific timeline will be established when the purchase of the land is complete. Future trail planning takes time to fully understand resources, parking capacity issues and optimal trailhead locations and will involve multiple opportunities for public participation.
In the interim, Midpen plans to provide limited access via guided walks and other programming.
Project Updates and Related Stories
Keeping the water running... with fish! How Midpen is restoring Santa Cruz Mountain waterways for at-risk salmon and trout
Jan. 26, 2022 Proclamation honoring Assemblymember Marc Berman for $8 million in state funding.
2022 Property evaluation, partner and public engagement.
Oct. 18, 2022 Public Committee Meeting: Review proposed purchase and consider recommending to the full board. (agenda)
Dec. 10, 2022 Public Board Meeting: Consider final approval of purchase with Midpen board of directors. Agenda and report.
June 2023 Expected close of escrow on first portion of phased purchase.
The cost to Midpen is offset by:
-$8 million general fund budget request by Assemblymember Berman
-$1.4 million grant from the California Department of Parks’ Recreational Infrastructure Revenue Enhancement Program
-$500,000 Measure K grant from San Mateo County