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Theme: Giving Back to the Parks

The Edgewood Preserve Docent Training Program

Docents: Sharing Nature with the Bay Area Community

Meeting the Land at Fairfield Osborne Preserve

Other Features

A Brief History of Bay Area Parks and Open Space
   Pt. 2: From the 1960s through the Present Day

Names on the Land
   Pt. 2, Santa Cruz County

Education Stations "Smooth" the Trails

"Dish" Argument Continues on New Terrain

Sudden Oak Death: New Victims


Letter from the Trail Center

Park News

Trail Center Notes

Upcoming Events

The Trail Companion

Winter 2001

A Brief History of Bay Area Parks and Open Spaces
Part 2. From the 1960s through the Present Day


      Meanwhile, some work towards protecting diked wetlands went forward. In 1974, as a first step, the state legislature passed the Suisun Marsh Preservation Act advocated by Save the Bay, and three years later a follow-up Suisun Marsh Protection Plan was passed.

Conservation Spreads to the Coast

The fight for the bay convinced conservationists that a similar approach could help address wider environmental concerns. In November, 1972 the state's voters approved Proposition 20, the California Coastal Zone Conservation Act, to protect the state's coastline. It established a state coastal commission and several regional coastal commissions, all patterned after the BCDC. Each commission was to pass on all development proposals and prepare a coastal plan for the area under its authority by the end of 1975. Two commissions had responsibility for the bay area; the North Central Coast Regional Commission, covering Sonoma, Marin and San Francisco counties, and the Central Coast Regional Commission, encompassing San Mateo, Santa Cruz and Monterey counties. Proponents formed the Coastal Alliance to monitor the new agencies and defend the law's provisions, the same watchdog role the Save San Francisco Bay Association played in relation to the bay commission. The original coastal act terminated in 1976, but the next year a new act continued the state commission indefinitely and the regional ones through Jun. 30 1979. The state legislature again extended the life of the regional commissions in 1978, to mid-1981. Thereafter coastal cities and counties were to take over planning and regulation, subject to overview of the state commission, once the state commission had approved their local coastal plans.
      While neither the bay nor the coastal commissions played a direct role in setting aside open space, by limiting development to conserve natural resources they did much to create an environment in which such solutions could occur, as well as ensuring that open space would still be there for later preservation.

The Regional Parks Movement

New interest in public lands had been building well before the crisis of the baylands focused public attention on the need to conserve coastal lands and waters. Even in the 1950s the East Bay Regional Park District had found support for growth, with the Hayward area joining the district in 1956 and Fremont in 1958. Also in 1958, Dorothy Eskine founded Citizens for Regional Recreation and Parks, an alliance of people and organizations interested in preserving open space and increasing areas for public recreation. In 1960 it made a rough inventory of open space then publicly owned, which was incorporated into the California Public Outdoor Recreation Plan. Soon it was urging the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) to develop a long-range regional land use plan including proposals for parks and agricultural greenbelts. Eskine's group assisted ABAG staff in applying for federal planning assistance funds and aided the effort by assembling information from its constituent organizations on areas to add for recreation or preserve as agricultural lands, watersheds and marshlands. This information was reflected in the open space portion of ABAG's preliminary regional plan of 1966, which projected setting aside 2,000,000 acres for a permanent regional greenbelt. In 1968, taking their efforts a step further, Citizens for Regional Recreation and Parks called on the legislature to create a regional open space agency, though the state proved cool to this proposal. Meanwhile, ABAG went on to complete a long range regional plan for the period 1970-1990. Published in 1970, it included among its recommendations keeping 3,400,000 acres (out of 4,500,000 in the Bay Area) permanently free of urban encroachment.

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