This month we highlight Ravenswood Open Space Preserve and share how we're working to protect critical habitats. Read on to discover what's new at Midpen — learn about ongoing projects, find out about upcoming virtual events and get public meeting updates.
Discover More in English and Spanish
Learn about birds, the importance of wetlands and more from six bilingual interpretive signs on the newest section of the San Francisco Bay Trail at Ravenswood Preserve. This tour is also available in the OuterSpatial app. Learn more and download it today at openspace.org/OuterSpatial.
See the Future
About twice a year, we can get a preview of future sea level rise during King Tides, which happen when the orbits of the moon and sun align at their points closest to Earth, creating the highest predicted high tides of the year. Ravenswood Preserve’s easy access trails that run along the salt marsh provide a great location to see King Tides up close November 15–16 and December 13–15.
Finding Fall at Alpine Pond
Join Midpen Interpretive Specialist Ellen Tjosvold and Environmental Education Specialist Nina Vuoso in this short video to explore the seasonal changes at Alpine Pond in Skyline Ridge Open Space Preserve. Fall is marked by a decrease of sunlight and cooler temperatures, and many plants and animals respond to these conditions as they prepare for winter, which is a time to conserve energy and resources.
Working to protect California lands
On October 7, California Governor Gavin Newsom set a first-in-the-nation goal of protecting 30% of the state’s land and coastal waters by 2030 to to address the climate crisis and protect California’s rich biodiversity. This is in accordance with a larger effort promoted by the United Nations to protect 30% of the world’s land by 2030.
In our own way, we started our pursuit of this goal when we were founded almost 50 years ago. Today, Midpen has protected nearly 65,000 acres — just over 100 square miles — approximately 18% of the land within our district boundaries. Working together with our partners like San Mateo and Santa Clara county parks, Peninsula Open Space Trust and California State Parks, nearly 39% of the land within Midpen’s boundaries is protected! We are committed to preserving, protecting and caring for these critical habitats.
Watch out for Newts!
It's migration and breeding season for the California newt and you may begin to see them in groups crossing Midpen trails and local roadways, especially during rain and heavy fog.
If you see newts while you’re out in the preserves:
- Report newt observations using community science apps, like iNaturalist, date from which Midpen uses along with other sources to determine where migrations occur and to identify areas of conflict where dead newts are observed.
- Do not move or handle newts. They secrete a powerful neurotoxin through their skin to repel predators. This poison can cause death in many animals, including humans, if ingested. Pass slowly and alert other trail users.
Be Prepared and Have A Plan
Midpen is partnering with Santa Clara County Parks, Santa Clara County Fire and Stanford Health to encourage outdoor recreators to be safe, be prepared and have a plan.
- Adhere to all COVID-19 guidelines.
- Know before you go: trail etiquette, trail conditions and other potential hazards.
- Share your plan and route with others, including expected return time.
- Pack essential items: food, water, first aid kit, medications.
In October a crew from the San Jose Conservation Corps partnered with Midpen staff to clean an illegal dump site along Woods Trail in Sierra Azul Open Space Preserve. The project team, funded through the CalRecycle tire grant program, removed over 60 cubic yards of trash, including 875 tires and a 1956 Lincoln!
Learn more about Midpen's partnership with the San Jose Conservation Corps.
Work continues on our ADA Barrier Removal project. Restrooms have been replaced at Windy Hill (now open) and Russian Ridge (open soon) preserves and work begins this month at Monte Bello Preserve. Parking capacity in the parking lot will be slightly reduced during construction.
Ongoing Wildland Fire Prevention
Our ongoing wildland fire prevention, preparation and response have helped protect Midpen preserves from this year’s wildland fires. Annual maintenance of hundreds of miles of fire roads and fuel breaks helped fire-trained Midpen staff and local fire agencies respond quickly to put out several lightning-started fires on Midpen land.
Annually training Midpen staff as wildland firefighters and providing them with necessary firefighting equipment allowed them to assist Cal Fire by holding the CZU Lightning Complex Fire’s north line at Old Haul Road, preventing the fire from moving into communities and preserves in the Skyline/Highway 35 area.
Examples of recent and current work includes removal of nonnative, fire-prone eucalyptus trees along designated evacuation routes and near the wildland urban interface in Los Trancos, Windy Hill, Picchetti Ranch and Pulgas Ridge preserves. Restoring these areas to more fire-resistant and resilient native plant communities benefits the ecosystem while increasing wildland fire safety.
In our Coal Creek Preserve, a newly awarded Prop 68 grant is allowing us to partner with the California Conservation Corps on a regional shaded fuel break for increased wildland fire safety along a critical evacuation route. We expect work to begin this fall and end by May 2021.
Midpen Ranger Marianne Chance explains how tenacity, teamwork and training helped her fight the CZU Lightning Complex fires alongside other Midpen staff. This is a short excerpt from the oral presentation by staff about Midpen's response to the CZU Fire at a special public meeting of the Midpen board of directors on October 28, 2020.
Free Virtual Events
Wildlife & Harvest Day Video Festival
Ongoing through November 29
Looking for a fun way for the kids to learn about nature? Join Santa Clara Valley Audubon Society for an incredible variety of virtual nature videos and activities this fall. Featuring everything from barnyard animals to bald eagle and a video from Midpen, the festival has something for everyone.
Recreate Responsibly Videos with Latino Outdoors
Beginning on November 16
Join Midpen and Latino Outdoors to learn about the seven principles of Recreate Responsibly! All week long beginning on November 16, we will share short videos created by Latino Outdoor volunteers that highlight a different Recreate Responsibly principle each day. Catch the videos in our social media feeds. #RecreateResponsibly #RecrearResponsablemente
Midpen: Facebook, Instagram
Latino Outdoors: Facebook, Instagram.
Lunch & Learn at El Corte de Madera Creek Open Space Preserve
Thursday, December 3, noon to 1 p.m.
Join Bay Area Older Adults and Midpen for an exploration of El Corte de Madera Creek Open Space Preserve. Learn about the thriving wildlife around its creeks and the geology of the area. Venture on a virtual tour of the preserve and discover the resilient nature of redwoods and other fascinating facts. There will be time for Q&A at the end of the presentation.
Visit openspace.org/calendar for a complete schedule of events.
Or visit openspace.org/virtual-nature for more engaging activities to help you explore nature close to home.
Board Meeting Updates
Science of Grazing
Join the Midpen board on Wednesday, November 4 at 5 p.m. for a presentation from our Science Advisory Panel about grazing. The Science Advisory Panel, comprised of the San Francisco Estuary Institute and Point Blue Conservation Science, provides independent, science-based review of land management practices to inform our board’s decisions and policies.
The panel performed an extensive scientific literature review to assess the effects of 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.
For information about the virtual meeting and Midpen’s current conservation grazing program, visit openspace.org/grazing.
La Honda Creek Preserve Access
The La Honda Creek Public Access Working Group, made up of citizens from throughout Midpen’s service area and Midpen board members, presented its findings at a public meeting on October 21. The group has worked together for the past year, exploring numerous options and sites for expanding public access to the central area of La Honda Creek Preserve to meet the following goals:
- Reflect the rural character of the site
- Provide safe public access
- Balance public access with conservation grazing activities
- Facilitate environmental education
- Protect scenic views
The group concluded one site cannot meet all of the project goals and recommended a portfolio of sites be considered. These findings were approved by the board of directors. Staff will now study the feasibility of each recommended site before beginning a required environmental review process. Learn more at openspace.org/PAWG
Upcoming Public Meetings
- November 4: Board of Directors Meeting
- November 17: Legislative, Finance and Public Affairs Committee Meeting
- November 18: Board of Directors Meeting
In accordance with public health shelter-at-home orders, all Midpen board meetings will be held via Teleconference ONLY. The meetings may be viewed online. There is also a dial in number to listen by phone. Links are included in the meeting agendas posted online 72 hours before the meeting.