Welcome in the New Year in open space! Experience the wonders of water in Midpen preserves, help badgers and burrowing owls, go green or discover a new preserve on a free docent-led hike. Plus, get updates from recent public meetings and find out how to share your thoughts on pending projects.
Water Wonders and Waterfalls
The rain is here and it’s an amazing time to experience the wonders of water in Midpen preserves, using all your senses. Be captivated by the sights and sounds of rushing creeks and waterfalls, breathe in the cool, fresh air and gently touch the soft green mosses. Monte Bello Preserve is a great place to explore in the rainy season – see our illustrated guide to the Stevens Creek Nature Trail.
Want More Water?
See our list of waterfalls and water wonders to explore this time of year, including Crazy Pete's Waterfall and many more!
Help Badgers and Burrowing Owls Thrive
We know that American badgers, a species of special concern in California, live in the grasslands of many Midpen preserves and that the burrows they make are often used as winter homes for burrowing owls. But what we don’t know is how large their population is, where they are located and where they travel. We have begun a three-year badger and burrowing owl habitat study to help us make science-based decisions to best manage our grasslands so these animals can survive and thrive.
Our research biologists are asking for volunteers to help out in the field and for preserve visitors to report their badger and burrowing owl sightings, so that we have as much data as possible for analysis.
Choose Green Transportation This Year
When planning your trip to Rancho San Antonio this season, help us reduce congestion by using greener modes of transportation like bicycling, carpooling with friends or hailing a ride with Lyft (now carbon neutral). You can avoid the parking challenges and connect with nature while reducing your carbon footprint. A new option to consider is Via-Cupertino, an on-demand shuttle service providing transportation anywhere in Cupertino and to Sunnyvale Caltrain.
Midpen is working to better understand the parking and access challenges at Rancho San Antonio and to develop effective strategies to address them.
We Want to Hear From You on Wildland Fire
Fire is a fact of life in California and we all play a role in living safely with it. Our Wildland Fire Resiliency Program is increasing fire safety in Midpen preserves four ways:
- Expanding environmentally sensitive vegetation management beginning this year.
- Reintroducing prescribed fire to our land management toolbox by 2022.
- Improving maps that assist fire agencies in safely, effectively suppressing fire.
- Monitoring these efforts to ensure our program is adaptive and successful.
Join our board at a public meeting curently being scheduled for spring 2020 to learn more and provide your input as we begin environmental review of our Wildland Fire Resiliency Program.
Latino Outdoors Gratitude Hike
The winter season is a time to reflect on all we are grateful for as we set intentions for the new year. In December, we partnered with Latino Outdoors for a Gratitude Hike at Picchetti Ranch Preserve. “This is a great time to explore the outdoors with my community to learn more about nature with one another.” said Jennifer Adams, hike leader and Latino Outdoors Bay Area Regional Coordinator. Surrounded by oak woodland and winter greenery, a mix of new and returning participants explored the Zinfandel and Orchard Loop trails. Along the way they spotted spongy lichen, colorful fungi and meandering deer. The day ended with shared stories of gratitude and a potluck.
Partnership to Get Seniors Outdoors
Everyone can benefit from time outdoors, but a lack of transportation and companionship is often a barrier for seniors to access parks and open space. To help bridge this gap, we are collaborating with Bay Area Older Adults a nonprofit organization that provides outdoor recreation opportunities to adults age 50 and over. Over the next year, BAO is offering a series of introductory nature hikes at Midpen preserves, providing transportation and hike leaders to help seniors learn to navigate the trails safely.
At our first partnership hike in October at Long Ridge Preserve, 38 seniors joined Midpen and BAO staff on a 3.1-mile hike through shaded oak trees and learned about the history and geology of the area. Five more hikes will take place this year.
Resolve to Get Outside in January!
If ‘stay healthy’ is one of your New Year resolutions, make plans to kick off the new year at one of our FREE docent-led activities. Whether you're looking for a fast paced aerobic hike, exploring mindfulness, or learning more about the local flora and fauna of the area, each month we offer a wide variety of outdoor activities.
Midpen's grantmaking program supports organizations and projects that align with our mission. This is the first in a series of profiles of this year’s grantees.
Thrive Alliance is a network of diverse organizations with a shared commitment to strengthen the nonprofit sector and improve the well-being of San Mateo County. A Midpen grant of $25,000 will be used to fund a series of Environmental and Sustainability Thrive Action Group meetings over the next three years. The convenings bring together attendees from nearly 70 organizations throughout San Mateo County to discuss challenges and solutions in the natural resource and conservation landscape through the lens of equity and sustainability. The first meeting was held last month and focused on food waste, packaging and surplus disposal. Nearly 40 attendees gathered to share resources and discuss potential solutions.
Board Meeting Updates
- Conservation Grazing Policy: In December, we hosted a public workshop on our proposed policy update that included the opportunity for participants to share their thoughts on the policy updates. Additional meetings will be held in 2020, sign-up to be kept informed of upcoming public input opportunities.
- E-bike Policy: In November, the Midpen board of directors reviewed e-bike policy options and voted unanimously for staff to evaluate and propose a one-year pilot program for class 1 e-bikes on select unpaved trails. Staff will also evaluate allowing class 1 and 2 e-bikes on designated paved trails and roads, using a phased approach. The pilot program proposal will be presented and discussed at a board meeting later this year. Join our bike notification email list to receive updates.
- Repairs for Tower at Mount Umunhum: The board recently voted 6-1 to approve a long-term repair project for the radar tower. The 58-year-old building requires significant repairs to allow for safe maintenance access, to prevent unauthorized entry and to reopen the area around the tower to educational and interpretive opportunities. The project goes out to bid next spring and is expected to begin in late summer and take roughly six months to complete. Sign up to follow the project.
Upcoming Public Meetings
- January 8: Board of Directors Meeting
- January 14: Planning & Natural Resources Committee Meeting
- January 15: Measure AA Bond Oversight Committee Meeting
- January 22: Board of Directors Meeting
- January 28: Legislative, Finance and Public Affairs Committee Meeting
Meeting agendas are posted online 72 hours before the meeting.