In the 1990s, as development pressure threatened the Coastside’s scenic beauty, rural character and agricultural heritage, Coastsiders expressed their support for extending the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District boundaries to include the San Mateo County Coastside. In 2004, the coast to ridgeline, from Montara to the San Mateo Santa Cruz county line, officially became Midpen’s Coastside Protection Area. Our Coastside Protection Area Service Plan, which we spent more than seven years developing in collaboration with Coastside residents and agricultural community, guides our work in the region.
Since our boundaries expanded to include the San Mateo County Coast in 2004, Midpen has protected more than 12,600 acres of natural and agricultural lands that contribute to the area’s rural identity, natural beauty and quality of life.
Midpen worked with multiple stakeholders to develop the Coastside Protection Area Service Plan. Through the plan, Midpen is committed to:
- Protecting watershed integrity and water quality
- Protecting sensitive resources such as habitats for special-status species
- Providing key links to existing Midpen and other public open space and park lands
- Providing opportunities for low-intensity recreation
- Supporting development of an integrated regional trail system coordinated with the San Mateo County Trails Plan
- Providing opportunities for scientific research, resource conservation demonstration projects, outdoor environmental education programs, and interpretive programs
- Preserving existing and potential agricultural operations in order to keep the maximum amount of prime agricultural land and other lands suitable for agriculture in agricultural production
Midpen 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.
To date, more than $16 million in Measure AA funding has been invested in Coastside open space and agricultural preservation, restoration and public access projects. These include:
- Funding habitat restoration, watershed protection and conservation grazing projects at Purisima Creek Redwoods, La Honda Creek and Miramontes Ridge preserves.
- Supporting local ranching and farming families in viable agriculture including approximately 9,000 acres in conservation grazing (6,500 of which is accessible to cattle), 12 acres of row crops and 55 acres of dry-farmed land.
- Offering environmental education programs at local schools.
- Opening La Honda Creek Preserve to public access in 2018, and improving public access at Purisima Creek Redwoods.
Current and Future Projects
- Planning the Purisima-to-the-Sea Trail to connect Skyline Boulevard to Cowell Ranch State Beach.
- Removing abandoned oil facilities at the newly purchased Purisima Creek Uplands property
- Expanding the trail system at La Honda Creek Preserve to provide new loop opportunities
- Restoring Mindego Pond in Russian Ridge Preserve to support sensitive aquatic wildlife and grazing livestock at Mindego Ranch.
In January 2004, Midpen's board of directors approved a Memorandum of Understanding in which we agreed to consult with Farm Bureau on new land purchases and public access projects to avoid adverse impacts to adjacent agricultural operations.
In March of 2004, the District entered into an Agreement with La Honda – Pescadero Unified School District to meet the following goals:
- Tax Compensation Fee – For lands purchased in the School District boundaries and within the Coastside Protection Area, the District will pay a service fee to offset tax revenues received by the School District. These fees will increase annually by 2%.
- Environmental Education – The District will work with the School District to support environmental education such as “field trips to local fish habitat or a study of erosion control methods”.
The term of this Agreement is 20 years and in 2023, the District and the school district are to begin negotiations on a successor agreement.
In March of 2004, the District entered into an Agreement with San Mateo County regarding Fire Services to meet the following goals:
- Fire Service Fee – For lands purchased in the County’s District boundaries not covered by Cal Fire’s State Responsibility Area, and within the Coastside Protection Area, the District will pay a service fee to offset tax revenues received by the County. These fees will increase annually by 2%.
- County will provide Fire and Medical Services on District lands within the Coastside Protection Area.
- District and County have entered into a Mutual Aid Agreement.
- District will consult with County on its Fuel Management Program.
- District will consult with County on installation of additional water resources for fire suppression.
This agreement was renewed in March 2019.