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Protected and beautiful
The Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District
One of the great features of living on the Peninsula is the greenbelt system that runs through it. BeWell spoke with Yoriko Kishimoto, Director of the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District (and Stanford Business School alumni), about how our university is connected to this network of open spaces and the free health benefits they offer us.
What is the Stanford connection to the Midpen District?
Midpen owns and manages much of the publicly owned regional greenbelt for the mid-peninsula and Stanford University is right in the middle of our tri-county district. The relationship between Stanford and the Midpen goes back since before the district was founded in 1972, and Stanford faculty and alumni had key roles in gathering community support to create the district.
The great writer and conservationist Wallace Stegner once owned part of Long Ridge Open Space Preserve and has a memorial bench there, with an outstanding view of the Santa Cruz mountains. Stegner wrote: “…to try to save for everyone, for the hostile and indifferent as well as the committed, some of the health that flows down the green ridges from the Skyline, and some of the beauty and refreshment of spirit that are still available to any resident of the valley who has a moment, and the wit, to lift up his eyes unto the hills.”
Today, we partner with Stanford researchers at Jasper Ridge and our docents periodically lead talks for Stanford’s Outdoor Education program.
How big is the area?
Midpen encompasses a 550-square mile area from the southern border of Pacifica to the northernmost corner of Santa Cruz County. The area includes 26 preserves (each ranging in size from 55 to 18,000 acres) protected for public enjoyment, making it one of the most diverse and beautiful preserved land systems contained within an otherwise largely metropolitan region of the U.S. Preserves include redwood, oak, and fir forests; chaparral-covered hillsides; riparian corridors; over 220 miles of trails; and grasslands and wetlands along the San Francisco Bay.
What activities does the MidPen District offer?
This area is a paradise for nature-lovers, hikers, mountain bikers and equestrians. The variety of trails, activities and views makes for a lifetime of exploring. There are farm animals at Deer Hollow Farm in Rancho San Antonio, geo-caching activities, interpretive centers for families, day-long treks, mountain biking routes and shorter trails closer to town. You can join docent-led activities or volunteer for trail patrol and trail maintenance.
What are your favorite places?
I love Long Ridge for the stupendous coastal views and Purisima Creek Redwoods for the stunning redwood forests and rushing streams. I also love to run the Rancho San Antonio trails — lots of variety and cardio!
What does the recent passage of Measure AA mean for the area?
Funds from Measure AA will protect the skyline that Stegner writes about and will enable the District to double the miles of trails and preserve the rare native species in one of the world’s biodiversity hotspots. The funds will also provide endless learning and development activities for children and adults, and will provide all of us with cleaner air, a healthier environment and a better place to live.
… any final thoughts?
We are so incredibly lucky to live in an area where we can step outside and literally walk, bike, run or take a short drive to some of the most beautiful coastal views, redwood forests with streams (if we survive this drought!), and golden hills with California chaparral and bobcats and other wildlife.