The Natural Areas Program (NAP) is the branch of San Francisco Recreation and Park Department (SFRPD) responsible for managing the City’s Natural Areas. The mission of the Program is two-fold: to preserve, restore, and enhance remnant Natural Areas, and to develop and support community-based site stewardship of these areas. The initial impetus for the Program came from several local grassroots environmental organizations that recognized the value of the “Significant Natural Resource Areas” in supporting habitat for native plants and wildlife; ecosystem functions such as soil and water retention; and socioeconomic values, as well as being outdoor classrooms and living museums protecting natural heritage.
Recognizing the functions and value of these Natural Areas and the need to protect and restore them, SFRPD agreed to support and develop a community-based habitat restoration program, today known as the Natural Areas Program (NAP). SFRPD’s commitment to this project was formalized in the SF Recreation and Park Commission’s adoption of the Significant Natural Resource Areas Management Plan (SNRAMP) in 1995 (SFRPD 1995a ). In 1997, SFRPD hired the first staff for the Program and has been steadily building a team of natural resource managers and a base of volunteers. Today, the Natural Areas Program is composed of ten full-time staff who also work with thousands of volunteers on habitat restoration and environmental education.