cattle grazing on open space land

Midpen uses conservation grazing as one of many tools to protect and manage large-scale coastal grasslands with the goals of enhancing their native plant and animal biodiversity and increasing wildland fire safety. Midpen's mission on the San Mateo County Coast includes protecting rural character and supporting viable agricultural use of the land.

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. Watch the video:

Conservation Grazing Management Policy Amendment

Midpen is updating its Conservation Grazing Management Policy with a science-based amendment guiding proactive prevention of, and effective responses to, livestock-wildlife interactions.

Find out more about the Midpen Grazing Management Policy Amendment

Where does Conservation Grazing Occur?

Midpen currently leases approximately 9,000 acres (approximately 6,500 of which are accessible for periodic conservation grazing) to small-scale, local ranchers for conservation grazing, a valuable tool for managing large coastal grasslands to benefit plants, wildlife and people on portions of these 5 preserves:

  • Russian Ridge Open Space Preserve
  • Skyline Ridge Open Space Preserve
  • Purisima Creek Redwoods Open Space Preserve
  • Tunitas Creek Open Space Preserve
  • La Honda Creek Open Space Preserve

Tips for Hiking among Grazing Animals

What are the Benefits of Conservation Grazing?

  • Coastal grasslands are one of the most diverse ecosystems in the country, and one of the rarest. They evolved with historic grazing wildlife herds and periodic fires intentionally set by Native Americans, and require such disturbances to maintain health, otherwise they are lost to introduced species, shrubs and forest. 
  • Conservation grazing in coastal grasslands supports the management and recovery of endangered, threatened and special-status species that need grassland habitat, like San Francisco garter snake, badgers, burrowing owls and California red-legged frogs.
  • Grazing is an effective way to reduce wildland fire fuels. Cattle eat dry vegetation across many acres, often on steep terrain which may be inaccessible to other treatment options.
  • Conservation grazing supports viable agriculture use of the land on the San Mateo County Coast, part of Midpen's Coastside mission. 

Agriculture on the San Mateo Coast

Agricultural production on the San Mateo Coast has a rich history. Today, small family-owned farming and ranching businesses play a role in the coastal economy, production of locally sourced food and continuing the agricultural heritage of the area.

Midpen, as part of the Coastside Protection Area Service Plan, has committed to conserving open space and agricultural land, preserving agricultural operations on the coast, and encouraging viable agricultural use of Midpen-owned lands on the San Mateo County Coast. 

For more information contact Senior Resource Management Specialist Coty Sifuentes-Winter at 650-691-1200.

Conservation Grazing on Open Space Land