Youth to map, restore trails: Measure A money to fund conservation effort

 By Bill Silverfarb Daily Journal

High school students will restore and survey park trails in the coming year and use new technology to develop interactive maps of San Mateo County’s parks system.

The Board of Supervisors is set to allocate more than $470,000 in two grants toward the initiative at its Tuesday meeting.

The board will vote on whether to authorize County Parks Director Marlene Finley to enter into an agreement with the Student Conservation Association to provide conservation crews through next summer and a Geographic Information System (GIS) Program that will provide trail condition mapping and monitor invasive species.

The Student Conservation Association is a nonprofit agency that protects and restores national parks, marine sanctuaries, cultural landmarks and green spaces in all 50 states.

A mix of college students and young adults will lead about 100 high school students who are expected to enroll in the program, Finley said Monday.

The students will also perform work on Golden Gate National Recreation Area and Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District lands as well, Finley said.

The survey work will be uploaded to the county’s Open Data Portal so anyone can access the information and develop unique apps related to the county’s parks, Finley said.

The maps could be used for a variety of reasons including for search and rescue crews, she said.

The two Measure A grants are the first of six the parks department has prioritized for a total of $2.6 million over the next two years.

Student Conservation Association crews will provide close to 7,000 volunteer hours to help restore about 2,100 linear feet of trails through the $341,000 conservation crew grant.

With the $130,000 GIS grant, students will collect data on trails, trail condition mapping and invasive species monitoring and mapping to be managed and organized on a San Mateo County Geodatabase, according to a report by Finley to the Board of Supervisors.

The crews will survey and report on 32 miles of trails, according to the report.

The GIS work will “become an important tool for the parks department to use in park planning for conservation and protection of natural resources,” according to the report.

The students will gain valuable technical skills through the program, Finley said.

The work the students do will be based on task orders related to habitat restoration or facility improvement work in both north and south county parks.

The parks department operates 20 separate parks, encompassing 17,071 acres, and 190 miles of county and local trails, including three regional trails. Parks are located throughout the county and represent a wide variety of natural settings including a coastside marine reserve, a Bayside recreational area, coastal mountain woodland areas and urban sites, according to the department’s website.

Measure A is a voter-approved sales tax that generates about $80 million annually.

The San Mateo County Board of Supervisors meets 9 a.m., Tuesday, July 21, 400 County Center, Redwood City.

(650) 344-5200 ext. 102

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