For Immediate ReleaseMarch 10, 2017
Marin County Parks invites public to contribute to workplan ideas
San Rafael, CA – Putting its “organic first” philosophy to work, Marin County Parks is assembling a list of vegetation management and biodiversity projects for its 34 open space preserves and inviting the public to contribute ideas.
“Public engagement is really valuable to us and ends up positively refining our plans, so we want to keep that dialogue going,” said Mischon Martin, Chief of Natural Resources and Science. “There’s no better source of ideas and input than the people who love and visit our open space.”
With more than 16,000 pristine acres of protected natural resources, Marin County Parks (and specifically the Marin County Open Space District) is charged with promoting environmental stewardship and protecting public safety. In 2015, the Open Space District created its first Vegetation and Biodiversity Management Plan (VBMP) that was accepted by the Open Space Board of Directors as a decision–making framework that provides a science-based approach to vegetation management efforts.
After initial feedback from the community, the annual workplan is being brought before the Marin County Parks and Open Space Commission at 3 p.m. March 16, for further input and recommendation to the Open Space Board of Directors.
Projects on the draft list range from protecting rare species to community wildfire protection. There are more than 100 rare species in the preserves, including at least eight found in Marin and nowhere else in the world. From government agencies to nonprofit partners to grassroots efforts, Marin is renowned for its dedication to preserve open spaces for habitat protection and recreation. Also, in partnership with fire agencies, Parks is devoted to protecting the safety of the estimated 35,000 residents who live adjacent to County wildlands.
From Parks’ standpoint, there are a handful of direct benefits to the workplan projects: boosting biodiversity, enhancing fire protection, collaborating with partners, and assuring transparency on a topic – herbicide use – that has prompted some concern in the community.
“We’re making progress on getting down to zero herbicides, and hearing from our residents has been important,” said Sarah Minnick, Parks’ Vegetation & Fire Ecologist. “Last year we used herbicides on less than 1 percent of our actively managed lands. Conventional chemical compounds are only used as a last resort in critical-use situations as a means for bringing infestations under control, and always with the goal of transition away from chemical use. We have made tremendous progress on reducing herbicide use, and we work to effectively manage our sites organically over the long term.”
Parks has celebrated the contributions of local volunteers who have poured sweat equity into weed-fighting campaigns and helped with the “down to zero” goal. One group affectionately known as the Broom Busters is being honored March 11 at a small ceremony to recognize 20 years of hillside weed eradication. The Marin County Open Space Board of Directors honored the Tiburon-based group with a resolution during its March 7 meeting.
Anyone interested in joining or forming a volunteer group should contact Greg Reza at email@example.com or call 415-473-3778. More volunteering opportunities may be found on Parks’ volunteering webpage.
The Parks and Open Space Commission meets in the Board chamber (Suite 330) of the Marin County Civic Center, at 3501 Civic Center Drive in San Rafael. The recommended work plan resulting from the March 16 session will be described in an informational presentation to the Open Space Board on March 21 and incorporated into the Open Space budget which is to be approved by the Open Space Board in June.
Written feedback on workplan priorities may be emailed to SMinnick@marincounty.org. Learn more about the Vegetation and Biodiversity Management Plan on the Marin County Parks webpage.
All public meetings and events sponsored or conducted by the County of Marin are held at accessible sites. If you are a person with a disability and require information or materials in alternative formats – or if you require accommodation to participate in a county program, service or activity – please contact department staff at (415) 473-7331 or (415) 473-4381 (voice/TTY) or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sarah MinnickVegetation and Fire EcologistMarin County Parks
Marin Civic CenterSuite 260San Rafael, CA 94903(415) 473-5058Email: Sarah MinnickMarin County Parks website