By Marion Softky Residents in the Bay Area are blessed to have the Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA), one of the largest urban parks in the world, and one of the most popular national parks in the country.
Stretching in patches of land from Woodside north to Point Reyes, the GGNRA includes Bay Area icons such as Muir Woods, Alcatraz, Marin Headlands and the Presidio. It also includes less developed, less famous lands that have been acquired more recently, or are still to be acquired.
Its boundaries are set by Congress; within the boundaries are areas authorized for acquisition in the future.
The two southernmost properties in San Mateo County that are part of the GGNRA are:
• The Phleger Estate comprises 1,250 acres of the forested hillside of Skyline Ridge, north of Woodside and wedged between Huddart Park and the San Francisco Watershed. The Peninsula Open Space Trust (POST) bought it from the heirs of Herman and Maria Elena Phleger, and sold it to the federal government in 1995.
• Rancho Corral de Tierra is 4,262 acres located north of Half Moon Bay, where massive subdivisions were once planned. Purchased by POST in 2001 for $29.75 million, it has been included in the boundaries of the GGNRA by Congress, but awaits $15 million in federal funding before it transfers to the national park.
The GGNRA is engaged in a multi-year program to develop a general management plan to guide future uses, development, and protection of its park units over the next 30 years.
As part of the planning process, GGNRA is inviting the public to learn about and comment on the plan at seven open houses and "scoping sessions." They began April 19, and will continue until May 16 at locations ranging from San Mateo and Half Moon Bay, to Sausalito and Mill Valley, with one in Pacifica and two in San Francisco.
The closest session will be in San Mateo on Sunday, April 27, from 3:30 to 7:30 p.m., at the Peninsula Community Foundation, 1700 South El Camino Real, Suite 300.
The final "Scoping Open House" will be in Half Moon Bay, on Friday, May 16, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at the Community Center, 535 Kelly St.
Lennie Roberts of the Committee for Green Foothills encourages people to attend and participate in planning the future of the local national park lands. "They never had a general management plan for San Mateo County lands," she said.
The GGNRA includes about 32,000 acres in San Mateo County, said Chris Powell, spokeswoman for the GGNRA. Not all of that is yet owned by the park or managed by the park, she noted.
Some 23,000 acres of watershed owned by San Francisco are within the GGNRA boundaries; the GGNRA administers the conservation and recreation easements that protect the lands that protect the water supply.
Other lands in San Mateo County include Sweeney Ridge, Milagra Ridge and Mori Point, in and around Pacifica.
In the planning meetings, Ms. Powell said, "We'll be looking at the type of activities appropriate for the next 30 years."
The Phleger property, for example, is heavily forested and currently reached by trail from Huddart Park or Kings Mountain. "Do people want to see other uses?" Ms. Powell asked. "We want to allow recreation but protect the redwoods."
Rancho Corral de Tierra, by contrast, is much larger and more diverse; it stretches across the western slopes of Montara Mountain from McNee Ranch State Park to El Granada. "It has more opportunity than Phleger because of its size and variety," Ms. Powell said.
Rancho Corral de Tierra is included in the federal planning process even though it is still owned and managed by POST. In January, Sen. Dianne Feinstein and the Bay Area Congressional delegation were able to secure the first $1.96 million appropriation toward the $15 million purchase price for the property.
Sen. Feinstein sees Rancho Corral de Tierra as the "southern gateway" to the lands protected by the GGNRA. "In today's tough budgetary times, private organizations like POST play a critical role in helping the government protect open space at a more affordable price," she said. "POST's anticipated transfer of Rancho Corral de Tierra for about half the original purchase cost makes this an especially worthwhile project."
Rancho Corral de Tierra provides major opportunities for trail connections to other state and county parks and the Bay Area Ridge Trail, as well as equestrian use. "We may want a visitor center," said Ms. Powell.
For information, call 415-561-4965; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org; or go to parkplanning.nps.gov/goga.
The Golden Gate National Recreation Area is developing a general management plan to guide future uses, development and protection of its parks. The closest open house and "scoping" session on the plan will be held in San Mateo on Sunday, April 27, from 3:30 to 7:30 p.m., at the Peninsula Community Foundation, 1700 South El Camino Real, Suite 300.