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Open space district acquires property to connect redwoods preserve to sea

The Los Altos-based Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District Board May 23 approved the transfer of 240 acres of land south of Half Moon Bay, completing a contiguous landscape of protected open space and agricultural land from Purisima Creek Redwoods Preserve to the Pacific Ocean.

“This property is the final link in the long-term vision to connect Santa Cruz Mountain forests to the coast in support of agriculture, wildlife and people,” said Ana Maria Ruiz, Midpen’s general manager.

According to Ruiz, the land transfer enables Midpen to plan and build the Measure AA-funded Purisima-to-the-Sea Trail, linking the Bay Area Ridge Trail along the Skyline corridor with the California Coastal Trail along the ocean bluffs.

The property, encompassing steep hillsides and grassy ridgeline, will transfer to Midpen in June from the Giusti family. The Giustis, a coastside farming family, retain the lower farm fields where brussels sprouts, artichokes, beans, pumpkins, peas and hay are grown.

Midpen will restore the area by cleaning up abandoned oil wells and improving nearby ponds and stretches of creek for wildlife habitat. Midpen also will explore the feasibility of reintroducing cattle grazing to the property. The next step is working with the public to plan the Purisima-to-the-Sea Trail in a way that considers the needs of neighboring farmers and ranchers, local residents and open-space visitors.

The restoration, grazing and public access projects are funded in part by Measure AA, a $300 million bond passed by local voters in 2014, supporting open-space projects in Midpen’s Vision Plan.

Midpen works in public-private partnership with the Peninsula Open Space Trust (POST) to protect open space and agricultural land on the coast. POST, a nonprofit land trust, began protecting the Purisima-to-the-Sea properties in 1998. Midpen began acquiring the lands from POST in 2006, shortly after Midpen’s boundaries expanded to include the San Mateo County coast. Midpen purchased an additional Purisima-to-the-Sea property from the University of California in 2009.

For more information, visit openspace.org.

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