SAN FRANCISCO – Local children, seniors and—yes—snakes will be among the beneficiaries of state conservation grants totaling more than $400,000, the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department announced today.
SF Rec and Park’s McLaren Park Visitacion Avenue Corridor Trail and Sharp Park Garter Snake Habitat Restoration were among the 26 park projects across the state recently awarded $4.1 million in California Habitat Conservation Fund grants. The competitive program, funded by the California Wildlife Protection Act of 1990, helps local agencies protect, restore, and enhance wildlife habitat to maintain California’s quality of life.
The McLaren Park Visitacion Avenue Corridor Trail Project, which received $207,000, will improve access to McLaren Park by constructing a ¼ mile pedestrian and bicycle trail that connects the Visitacion Valley neighborhood to the park’s interior trail system. Points of access include Visitacion Valley Middle School and multiple streets.
The new trail dramatically improves access to more than 1,000 residents who do not have cars, including seniors who attend tai chi classes at the McLaren Park tennis courts and students at Visitacion Valley Middle School. Native plantings, interpretive signs and habitat restoration will transform the area into an oasis for children to experience nature. The state grant will be used to construct approximately 1,400 feet of multi-use trail with 7,000 square feet of trail surfacing.
The San Francisco Garter Snake, one of North America’s most beautiful snakes and on the federal list of endangered species, is also benefitting from an infusion of funding. The Sharp Park Garter Snake Habitat Restoration Project received $200,500 to restore 1 acre of habitat with invasive plant removal and native plantings. Sharp Park is in Pacifica but is managed by the SF Rec and Parks. At just under 400 acres, its natural area encompasses coastal wetlands, coastal scrub, forest, and grasslands and it serves as an important wildlife habitat.
Historically, the San Francisco Garter Snake could be found throughout San Mateo County. Currently, it lives only in small, disconnected patches within San Mateo County, including Sharp Park. Cape ivy, mustard radish and teasel are among the invasive species to be removed by hand under the supervision of a biological monitor due to the sensitivity of the habitat. Native plants propagated at the Golden Gate Park nursery will be replanted in the area.
“Healthy parks are essential to our well-being—that goes for everyone in the ecosystem, from gardeners to garter snakes,” said SF Rec and Parks General Manager Phil Ginsburg. “We are grateful to the California Department of Parks and Recreation for supporting our vision for both people and wildlife.”