Hikers enjoying sunset sky at Monte Bello Preserve

Science Advisory Panel

Sunset hikers at Monte Bello Preserve (Karl Gohl)

Midpen is a leader in open space preservation, natural resource protection and responsible land management. To help us with this work, we have formed a Science Advisory Panel to provide independent, science-based review of key issues and serve as a resource for guiding future decisions. The panel is made up of scientists from two locally-esteemed research organizations, San Francisco Estuary Institute and Point Blue Conservation Science. The panel brings expertise in local ecology and natural history, climate change and land management strategies, as well as connecting Midpen to a broad network of technical experts at other institutions.

    Natural Resources Protection and Restoration
    Natural Resources
    illustration of a notebook with images of animals on cover


    The complicated natural resource and public access projects we manage require a high level of scientific expertise to balance all the pieces of our mission. This is true for Midpen and for other open space agencies and conservation groups throughout the region. The panel will support our ongoing work by:

    • Establishing a scientific basis to assist Midpen with management decisions.
    • Providing an independent review of Midpen land management decisions and ongoing practices.
    • Advancing research efforts to support important science-based land and resource management throughout the region.

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    Scientific Literature Review of the Ecological Impacts of Recreation 

    After completing a literature review and analysis of the benefits of recreation in open space in February 2021, the Science Advisory Panel reviewed and analyzed the literature on the ecological impacts of recreation, as well as strategies to minimize those impacts so that Midpen can continue delivering on all parts of its mission by balancing resource protection with ecologically sensitive recreation. The Panel presented its findings to the Midpen board of directors at a public meeting on December 8, 2021. 


    Scientific Literature Review of Conservation Grazing

    At a public meeting on November 4, 2020, the Midpen board of directors received a presentation from the independent Science Advisory Panel about their findings from an extensive scientific literature review to assess the effects of conservation grazing on native ecosystems and biodiversity, its utility as a vegetation management tool for wildland fire safety and its greenhouse gas emissions and carbon sequestration potential. No board action was taken.


    Presentation of Science Advisory Panel's First Year Findings

    The panel completed their first round of work on the monitoring and recreation topics and presented their progress at the board of directors meeting on February 24 at 7 p.m.  

    At this meeting, the Board of Directors also received a presentation on the opportunities and challenges that come with monitoring our diverse natural resources at a landscape scale. The panel's primary recommendation was to work toward analyzing the wealth of community science data that already exists, potentially with assistance from a postdoctoral fellow. No board action was taken.

    Topics for Review

    In January 2020, the board of directors chose the first topics for review. The Science Advisory Panel is looking into:

    • Efficiently monitoring changes in plant and animal populations at a landscape scale
    • Balancing the benefits to people from ecologically sensitive recreation and education with protecting natural resources
    • Conservation grazing benefits and impacts

    A detailed description of the topics can be found in the board report from the meeting.