Park Service meeting on Rancho Corral de Tierra plan, Thurs Jan 29

Press release

Posted by
Wed, January 14, 2009


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Peninsula Open Space Trust

You’re invited by the National Park Services to participate in an information sharing workshop about Rancho Corral de Tierra. The session is intended to help the Park Service and the community understand the resources, history, and current uses of the 4,200 acre Rancho, in advance of assumption of management responsibility by the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. The meeting will be held at the Farallone View School multi-purpose room in Montara on Thursday, January 29, 2009, from 7:00 to 9:00PM, and is open to anyone with an interest in the Rancho. The NPS hopes this will be the first of several productive workshops to be held in 2009.

Agenda

  * Discuss the purpose of the workshops: what the NPS hopes to accomplish, what participants would like to accomplish

  * Share background information: comments on the GGNRA general management plan preliminary alternatives and the evolving preferred alternative

  * Additional questions and answers

  * Discuss the next steps to take: future workshops

Click below to see the plan. Please add your comments on the plan to this story.

Background

Rancho Corral de Tierra was purchased by the Peninsula Open Space Trust (POST) in 2002 to preserve one of the signature, world class landscapes of the San Mateo County coast, and with the intention to transfer the property to the National Park Service for long-term management. POST and the National Park Service are working together to complete the transfer and open the Rancho to public visitation as part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA). A similar endeavor involved the Phleger Estate, in Woodside, which is now a popular park. The transfer does not have a specific timetable; however, GGNRA is planning for the Rancho in its 20-year general management plan - the park’s master plan which creates a broad vision for the next 20 years.
In 2008, the GGNRA developed two alternatives for management of the Rancho. Click here to learn more about the alternatives. These generated a good deal of interest in the Coastside community, particularly from equestrians who were concerned that one of the alternatives would close the popular stables. The Park Service has responded by creating a preferred alternative that keeps the equestrian centers, and by initiating a series of public workshops where the future of the Rancho can be further explored in an open format.
This first meeting includes time to discuss comments the Park Service received about the general management plan, and to discuss the evolving preferred alternative. Ideas shared at this meeting will help refine the preferred alternative. A synopsis of the preferred alternative is included below. It will not be finalized until the Draft General Management Plan/Environmental Impact Statement is published next winter, when the public will again have an opportunity to comment. The park anticipates publishing the Final GMP/EIS and receiving authorization to implement the plan in 2011.

Preferred Alternative - as revised January 2009

The Rancho would be managed as two distinct zones. The upland areas and land outside the existing equestrian centers would be treated as a Natural Zone. It would be managed to preserve the wild, open character of the landscape and offer trail-based recreation that is light on the land, which would include walking, hiking, bicycling, and horseback riding. Natural habitats and processes in the zone, which includes four creek corridors, would be restored to the greatest extent possible with the help of community stewards.
In this zone, visitors would enjoy the scenic coastal environment through an enhanced and sustainable system of multi-use trails. The trail network would connect local communities to the park and link the ridges of Montara Mountain to the Pacific Ocean. Opportunities for a trail connection to Sweeney Ridge through the SFPUC Watershed’s northwest corner would be explored. Unnecessary roads could be converted to trails or removed. Discovery of the park could be facilitated by scenic overlooks, sites for picnicking, primitive camping sites, and possibly a hikers’ hut in a remote setting.
A smaller Diverse Opportunities Zone would encompass the existing developed areas of the Rancho. Here, a "portal" would be created - trailheads and other visitor facilities that provide for the enjoyment of the Rancho. Detailed planning following the GMP would determine the mix of uses that would share this zone. However, the park would seek to retain the vital equestrian operations and continue to expand programs that welcome and benefit the public. Park managers would work with equestrian operators to enhance the best management practices employed to protect the environment. Any new visitor facility would be sited where natural and cultural resources would be preserved, and where compatible with adjacent uses such as agriculture. New facilities could include trails, trailheads, a community stewardship/educational center, "warming hut", group picnic area, rustic campsite, and a horse camp.
In addition, safe trailheads would be developed near Highway 1 to support exploration of this large, diverse landscape, and the extensive adjacent public lands. The multi-use trails and trailheads would be compatible with adjacent agricultural uses.
Habitat restoration and community stewardship activities would have a strong presence in both zones. The Park Service would partner with surrounding land managers and the Fitzgerald Marine Reserve, one of the richest intertidal areas on the California coast, to protect water quality, restore the creek corridors, reconnect them to the ocean, and to reestablish anadramous fish passage where possible.
Approximately 300 acres of the Rancho are not included in the park. Those acres encompass farmland of "Local Significance" as designated by the State of California Department of Conservation and will remain in agricultural use. The park would connect people to the agriculture history of the Rancho through interpretation of its cultural landscape and adjacent working farms, while not impinging on their operations.

Contact
Other information about the National Park Service’s general management plan for the GGNRA can be found online at http://parkplanning.nps.gov/projectHome.cfm?parkId=303&projectId=15075. You may find the GGNRA’s summary of the comments received about the preliminary alternatives this summer at http://parkplanning.nps.gov/document.cfm?parkID=303&projectId=15075&documentID=25038.
If you have questions about the meeting call Lee Ann Ciancetti in the GGNRA at (415) 561-4930, or email her at [email protected]


Great—good to see that this acquisition is proceeding. Rancho is a great resource, and it’s right in our backyards (if you live anywhere from Montara to El Granada, anyway). I and many of my neighbors hike there with our dogs daily, and have for years. Over the years, friends and I have encountered bobcats, coyotes, deer; there are dusky-footed woodrat nests near one of the trails; we’ve even seen rain beetles—huge things with “furry” underbellies that we at first thought were queen bees! It’s wonderful to go out there in all seasons and look at the changes, what’s blooming… and the views from back up in the hills are stunning. On a clear day, you can see from Ano Nuevo out to the Farallones. And if it’s really clear, you can see the Marin Headlands. It’s a wonderful place.

My only disappointment is that dog walking is not specified in the list of activities (unless that’s assumed as part of “walking”).

There is a problem with dirt bikers/motocross riders accessing the southern portion of Rancho, which is a big safety concern for hikers and equestrians. I wonder how the Park Service will address that?

Risa

Comment 2
Fri, January 16, 2009 2:19pm
Todd McGee
All my comments

The question of dog walking is one that I would encourage you to follow up on. In my experience dealing with a fairly large number of public land managers dogs are usually excluded from any land use policy in which they are not expressly listed as being included. It would be a shame to lose access to the meadows for dog-walking purposes.

I heartily agree on including dog walking over the course of the upcoming mtng.
The historical use(abuse) of these lands by the motorcycles-quads-4 wheel drive trucks+jeeps has left unmistakable scars on the seemingly every hillside.
These motorized folks continue to access this property from the Pacifica side also.
As an individual, I have been discreetly taking photographs of every one that I encounter. I fwd the info to the relevant authorities, they currently being the Pacifica Police dept, McNee Ranch rangers.
I truly look fwd to the added bonus of fwd’ng this info to the GGNRA patrol staff.