240-acre open space transfer to connect Santa Cruz forests to the coast

The transfer of 240 acres south of Half Moon Bay next month will be the final link in a vision to connect Santa Cruz forests to the ocean.

The transfer of 240 acres south of Half Moon Bay next month will be the final link in a vision to connect Santa Cruz Mountain forests to the coast, conservationists said this week.

The property, encompassing steep hillsides and grassy ridgeline, will transfer in June from the Giustis, a coastside farming family, to the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District.

The transfer will connect protected open space and agricultural land from the Purisima Creek Redwoods Preserve to the Pacific Ocean, the district announced this week.

"We now have a wonderful opportunity 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," Midpen General Manager Ana Marfa Ruiz said.

The Giustis will retain lower farm fields where Brussels sprouts, artichokes, beans, pumpkins, peas and hay are grown.

The open space district plans to restore the area by cleaning up abandoned oil wells and improving nearby ponds and stretches of creek for wildlife habitat.

In addition, Midpen will also explore the feasibility of reintroducing cattle grazing to the property, the district said.

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 community-supported Vision Plan.

Midpen works in public-private partnership with the Peninsula Open Space Trust to protect and steward open space and agricultural land on the coast.

A nonprofit land trust, POST began protecting the Purisima-to-the-Sea properties in 1998.

Midpen began acquiring these 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.

In all, Midpen has added five properties totaling 1,493 contiguous acres to Purisima Creek Redwoods Preserve, supporting agriculture, protecting a corridor for wildlife and creating an opportunity to build the long-envisioned Purisima-to-the-Sea Trail.

Today, Midpen stewards more than 10,000 acres on the San Mateo County Coast.