New redwood park set to open in Silicon Valley

- Eighteen miles from Google headquarters. Twenty five miles from Facebook.

That's the distance from the hustle and bustle of tech-crazy Silicon Valley to the region's soon-to-be newest redwood park. On Tuesday, environmentalists, politicians and other outdoor enthusiasts broke ground on the Bear Creek Redwoods Open Space Preserve, one of 24 such preserved operated by the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District.

Set to open in the spring of 2019, the 1,432-acre expanse of redwood forest, oak woodlands and  meadows south of Los Gatos sits in the hills west of Highway 17 across from Lexington Reservoir.

Using money from Measure AA passed in 2014, the open space district plans to build six miles of trails for hiking and horseback riding and a 50-car parking lot along Bear Creek Road.

“It’s going to be a really amazing place. It’s some of the best-preserved second-growth redwood forest in the South Bay,” said Ana Ruiz, general manager of the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District, told the San Jose Mercury News. “To be able to go out there and experience the redwood forest,” she said, “and walk down the trail and feel the dampness of the air and see the light trickle through the trees; it’s an amazing experience.”

The majority of the current Bear Creek Redwoods Preserve was used for timber harvest from the mid-to-late 1800s.  Once the timber industry was replaced by a private estate, a number of orchards and vineyards were established throughout the property.  In 1934, the majority of what is now the preserve was sold to the Jesuits, who established a theological college on the grounds of the Tevis Estate, according to the open space district.  

The college closed in 1969, and the property was slated to be developed into a golf course and country club, until the open space district and the Peninsula Open Space Trust bought the land in 1999 for $25 million to save it from development.  

IF YOU'RE INTERESTED: For more information on the construction plans for Bear Creek Redwoods Preserve, click here.  In addition, Save the Redwoods League and California State Parks are handing out free passes to more than 40 redwood state parks. The next free Second Saturday is May 12. To download free passes on a first-come, first-serve basis click here.

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