Less than ten miles south of San Francisco lies what would be to the SF Peninsula what the Point Reyes National Seashore or Mount Tamalpais is to Marin, an open space so vast and wonderful that is almost unimaginable. I believe that an effort to open the SF Watershed to public access is not only a worthy goal, but an obtainable one. To do this we first need to spread the knowledge of what the SF Watershed is, what’s in it, and its historical significance to the public who owns it.
The official reasons provided by the SFPUC why the public is excluded from this land are to protect water quality and wildlife. Yet, these arguments against public access seem strange and logically inconsistent. There are public trails on the western shore of Crystal Springs Lake and San Andreas Lake a stone’s throw from the water. The trails in the closed watershed start a thousand feet up and a mile away from the reservoirs.
The wildlife protection argument is equally perplexing. Hikers share Pt. Reyes National Seashore with herds of Elk and Mountain Lions. There has been no connection between public access and wildlife destruction on Mount Tamalpais, Sweeny Ridge, Purisima Creek Redwood Open Space, San Bruno Mountain, or any other of the parks on the San Francisco Peninsula. The residents of the area who visit these parks have proven to be respectful of the wildlife for decades. The roads in the watershed are maintained by large weed whacking machine and are routinely used by service vehicles.
The SF Watershed has some of the most important historical sites in the Bay Area, and because it has been closed for so long much of this history is forgotten from public consciousness. The untold history inside the watershed is as important as the Bay Area discovery site, Mission Dolores, the Barbary Coast Trail, or any of our historically important places.
Pilarcitos Dam was completed in 1867 right after the civil war. Designed by master engineer Herman Schussler it was a marvel of engineering for its time. The dam created the first reliable water source for San Francisco, Pilarcitos Lake. Water was shipped to the city via a redwood flume powered by gravity. Before this development water in San Francisco was sold by the barrel. Without water the city would not have grown, when you consider how much the San Francisco Bay Area has shaped the history of the world, it puts into perspective how important this dam is to our cultural history. There is at plaque at Pilarcitos Dam placed in 1967 at the one hundred year anniversary of the dams construction. It is a plaque paid for with public money, on public land, that no one in the public is allowed to see.
So the question remains, if water quality and wildlife protection are not the real reason the SF Watershed is closed, what is the real reason. Tom Steinstra, writer for the SF Chronicle has long speculated that the SF Water department is trying to hide from the public view, the homes and infrastructure that it has built in this place. Mr. Steinstra has been inside the watershed many times both legally and illegally and is amazed by the amount of areas for relaxation that are apparently only for SFPUC employees or privileged visitors to the watershed. All of this, built with public money on public land.
The fact remains however that this is public land and we (the public) have an interest to access it. Access to the SF Watershed for activities as simple as hiking, or mountain biking would make this an even more wonderful place to live.
I drive by and see if from the freeway all the time and can only admire it by imagination. It's time to open it up so that I don't have to fantasize anymore and enjoy it with my children before I die!
Joe Navratil SAN JOSE, CA
The Fifield-Cahill trail is beautiful -- it would be awesome to be able to take people there without weeks of arrangements!
Jeff Hoopes TUCSON, AZ
I lived there and want to have access to this BEAUTIFUL place
Rick Escobar BURLINGAME, CA
It's our land and we want access
Nelson Wong BELMONT, CA
For decades, I have driven down highway 280 to enjoy the beautiful lush forests that lies west of Crystal Springs Resevoir. I have always wondered why there is no information available to explore such a beautiful area so close to home. A few years ago, I discovered what will be my life long passion; Mountain Biking. I reside in South San Francisco and drive long distances to explore our beautiful Bay Area. One of my favorite places for cross country riding is the Marin Headlands. It is never crowded and very well maintained. I began my search for areas closer to me with similar terrain. My hours on Google Earth led me to the SF Watershed via Sweeny Ridge. What a disappointment when I trekked up to the Sweeny Ridge Peak to be confronted by a fence that seems to surround the vast landscape I wanted to explore.
Little is known about this Watershed, until now. I enjoyed reading the history about it and am so happy to know there are others out there with the same concerns of public open space. I am signing this petition because there is no reason the SF Watershed should be closed off to the public. Opening up this land will provide more jobs. Other open spaces exist without any harm to its surroundings. I am sure there are organizers smart enough to figure out a system to protect our water source while allowing the public to explore and learn the rich history of the SF Watershed.
Robert Peters SAN FANCISCO, UNITED STATES
Huge area that should be park.
Charles Krenz PORTOLA VALLEY, CA
It's time! I've been driving past crystal springs since before there was a 280 and not being able to get into a piece of open space this enticing is really irritating. Eh, I guess this isn't that surprising, given what these guys did to Hetch Hetchy. Time to atone.
Preston Burnes SAN FRANCISCO, CA
An amazing, publicly owned resource, should be utilized to its maximum benefit. Closing off these lands does no good for anyone, and as an SF resident I can't believe I am not allowed to enjoy them.
Kamala Silva SO SAN FRAN, CA
My 90 year old Dad tells me fascinating stories of his youthful travels hiking through Marin and lake Lilienthal, taking the Ferry to SF, heading out on the Black Hills (now San Bruno Mtn) and continuing down what is now Sweeney Ridge making his way to Memorial Park and beyond. It was open land he could explore without hesitation; it was his classroom as he came to learn about water sources, land formation, history, and critters through observation, learning to read clues from nature, mastering a compass. He shared this love of natures teaching to his kids and grandkids.
Our local area has become so overgrown with concrete developments spreading out- and up, there is so much over stimulation everywhere you go. Our smaller parks are great for a short focus to appreciate some greenery yet nothing can compare with continuous open space so large your mind can be lost and found again. The Northern Peninsula is hungry for this reversal of rules put in place long ago without the knowledge or consent of the public people who own these lands. A lesser carbon footprint is left by immersing oneself locally as well as creating a deeper appreciation for what we have in our own backyards. And we have a lot, I know because Dad has told me, and ‘Open The SF Watershed’ validates through the literature researched.
I look forward to taking my grandkids out in the watershed one day soon and explain to them that this was where their great grandfather hiked before them. Continuity of family, of education, and of land.
Robinson Walsh REDWOOD CITY, CA
Because I want to enjoy that piece of land!
Michelle Boyle LOMA MAR, CA
Open it to equestrians too!!!
Nick Birth SAN FRANCISCO, UNITED STATES
jim sullivan PACIFICA, CA
Walking or riding Bicycles and Horses on the existing fire roads between Pacifica south to above Filoli Gardens would be a fantastic public use of these taxpayer supported lands.
Marin Co does it within Watershed lands, Time for SFPUC to do the same:
I visit the area quite frequently to see family. This would further enhance my stay.
Regina Dietrich SAN CARLOS, PA
We enjoy biking.
Steven Belli SAN ANDREAS, CA
To hike and perhaps mt. bike on the utility roads. To enjoy the nature that is hiding within the fences. To see Pilarcitos Lake and the dam in person is on my bucket list!
steve maiolini MILLBRAE, CA
Because I live in Millbrae and would love to access the area.
Jason Dietrich SAN CARLOS, CA
it's a beautiful open space I would like to enjoy near my house.
Catherine Apsley SAN MATEO, CA
I have never understood this. Santa Clara County's reservoirs are open for hiking (some even for no-water-contact boating), why not San Mateo County's? Also, I have to say that the bit about it being for wildlife protection seems disingenuous when one can see over the fence what appears to be uncontrolled growth of invasive weeds like pampas grass, fennel, and scotch broom. I don't believe there's any real reason why the public should be restricted from entering, and trail connections to Sweeney Ridge, Montara Mountain, Rancho Corral de Tierra, and the Bay Area Ridge Trail made.
Beth Liebert SAN CARLOS, CA
Better quality of life for residents!
Victoria Whisner MORGAN HILL, UNITED STATES
I believe the watershed should be open to the public for hiking.
Geoff Revill PETALUMA, CA
This is our open space as citizens. It is rediculous this watershed is being kept from use by government. As Ben Franklin was quoted "a government that gives you everything can take it all away"
Deborah Brown INDIANAPOLIS, IN
The land in question is public land. I would like my grandchildren to experience the history of the area.
Dwight Butler MILPITAS, CA
i like to hike
Anthony Halley SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO, UNITED STATES
I believe the watershed should be open to the public
Donald Endres BRISBANE, CA
It doesn't make any sense to run heavy, leaky machinery in there and have a highway right next to it, but ban hiking. Let hikers in!
John Haffner GLEN ALLEN, VA
I'm signing because I moved to SSF thinking that the huge green blob on the map that is the watershed was a park. I was sourly disappointed when it wasn't. A resource like this should be opened up to make living in the Northern Pennisula (south of SF) more desirable. Luckily San Bruno Mountain was open to lessen the blow.
Peter Gielow REDWOOD CITY, CA
We live in a very populated area. The public needs, demands access to as much public space as possible
Cristina Noriega HAYWARD, UNITED STATES
The public should be allowed to hike on this land and further connect to nature and the wildlife.
Jonathan Carter SAN MATEO, CA
Return of the watershed to the public would be a fabulous use of these lands and a gift to our children and future generations.
jim rose SAN FRANCISCO, CA
let the public use public land!
Colin Mclaughlin SAN MATEO, CA
These vast public lands should be open to the public and should be open to mountain bikers and hikers.
Andrew Kunz SAN MATEO, CA
I think opening the watershed makes sense. The public employees with access to it have a great perk. I don't think we have to argue that they are corrupt, but I do think it is a fantastic idea to open it to the public.
Colin Page PACIFICA, CA
Publicly owned and paid for land should be open for the public to enjoy.
Heather Bristol SCOTTS VALLEY, CA
There should be public access with multi-use trails to lands we pay for instead of elitism and exclusion.
Bret Lobree SAN FRANCISCO, CA
I love responsible access to beautiful places.
Francis Viggiano PALO ALTO, CA
I've often had the same thoughts expressed in this petition -- why is this area closed off to the public. It is ours, so give us access to it.
Catherine Young SAN FRANCISCO, CA
I enjoy hiking and mountain biking and love to explore new places. A recent transplant from Australia, I've so far found the parks near SF to be quite overcrowded in comparison which deters me from visiting, particularly on weekends which is when I have the most free time. Opening up this land for public use would give people more space to spread out an increase the enjoyment of the outdoors for everyone.
Ammon Skidmore SAN BRUNO, CA
+ Marin water district proves this can work
+ We should encourage access to nature without long travel times
+ For the car-free, SamTrans provides nearby access from Sweeney Ridge & Montara Mountain
+ Adds another missing link to the Bay Ridge Trail
+ The fireroads already exist, and have a long history of use from before the public was excluded
Ken Downey SAN RAFAEL, CA
I'm a cyclist, and want equal access to open space
Christopher Louie SAN FRANCISCO, CA
I am an avid cyclist and hike regularly with my family.
Edgar Higgins SAN FRANCISCO, CA
I'm a cyclist and hiker and Ive dreamed for years of how awesome it would be to bike in that area. Its beautiful up there, and its sad that its closed.
dennis carty BERKELEY, CA
I want to see the property around Crystal Springs Reservoir ASAP. It is public property..let us in for our walks, mt bike rides etc
Marco SOLDANO SAN JOSE, CA
More open spaces!!
Ian Emmons SUNNYVALE, CA
Letting the public see what is being protected helps reinforce the reasons we need to protect things
Benjamin Blizard OAKLAND, CA
Public lands belong to the public. Opening them for appropriate use makes them more valued.
Ted Raab REDWOOD CITY, CA
To expand hiking opportunities on weekends, since existing paved trails too short, and not very challenging. Also , bicycle commuting between SF and the Peninsula would be greatly improved.
Jamie Fox MARTINEZ, UNITED STATES
Land paid for by the public should be open to the public. Give peace a chance.
Bryan Cheung SAN MATEO, CA
this is an artificial impasse to having connected multiuse trails in the peninsula with no solid argument as to why it needs to be private.
Ted Lesher SAN FRANCISCO, CA
Because more open space is better!
Jason Thorpe SAN FRANCISCO, UNITED STATES
We all deserve access to enjoy the landscape that makes the Bay Area special!
Patty Ciesla SOQUEL, UNITED STATES
We need more wild recreation near our urban core
Kathy Schrenk MENLO PARK, UNITED STATES
This land belongs to all!
Kim Schwartz PACIFICA, CA
We always need more outdoor space!
Heather McDonald SAN FRANCISCO, CA
SF is 7x7, and I'm one of many who would greatly appreciate this space for safer cycling and recreation in the Southern end of the city.
Reyaz Sacharoff SF, CA
This would be an important way for someone like myself, without a car, to experience the wildlife and ecology of our beautiful region.
Alexandre Passos SAN FRANCISCO, CA
I regularly ride bicycles around the few parts which are open, and it's gorgeous. Would love to do more.
Lina Martensson SAN FRANCISCO, CA
This would be a great space for hiking and riding bikes and horses. I'll focus on cycling since that's what I do. Currently, even much of the already open spaces are somewhat inaccessible because creating a loop requires a *very* long ride.
I like to ride Old San Bruno Mountain Road on my road bike from SF, but once on the Montara side there is no great option to cross over the mountain and go home. Going north on hwy 1 at this point is very unsafe, as the shoulder is narrow and there is a lot of traffic, and you'll be moving very slow as it's going uphill (moving at a speed closer to that of traffic is generally safer).
Going over 92 is also a bad idea for the same reason. So then we're left with going to Tunitas Creek Rd, and if I then ride to BART in Millbrae instead of all the way home this is about 80 miles of riding. Opening up the watershed would make riding from San Francisco in the southern direction so much more viable and better!
scott crosby SAN FRANCISCO, CA
I want to hike/explore this area very much.
Maciek Wojciechowski SAN FRANCISCO, CA
Please, please, please let me ride more trails. I would love to help maintain them too. We live in this amazing area - let us (responsibly) enjoy it!
Murphy Mack SAN FRANCISCO, CA
Because more recreation options are better than fewer!
Dan Escobar SAN MATEO, CA
I had the fortune of running up there as a kid in high school. It is one of the most beautiful areas for nature lovers to hike or exercise. Our cross country team had been given permission to train there. I miss those days....
Jim Ratcliffe SAN FRANCISCO, CA
I would like to see the watershed open to recreational mountain biking and non motorized boating (kayaking). Opening the land for these uses would also reduce cross town traffic generated by people crossing the GG bridge to find similar opportunities in Marin. Its beautiful land. Thanks for the careful stewardship to date.
Thomas Tran LOS GATOS, CA
Please open to cyclists and all other user groups. Please don't exclude.
Lester Igo CAMPBELL, CA
This kind of abuse of public lands by greedy gov workers should not be tollerated.
Vernon Huffman WOODACRE, CA
We need more places to recreate. Please open the watershed!
anthony jung SAN FRANCISCO, CA
I would love to hike, bike and fish there.
Kathy Robello LOCKEFORD, UNITED STATES
Just a little taste of FREEDOM!!
Lloyd Leanse SAN FRANCISCO, CA
We need more open space for recreation.
Douglas Hladky PACIFICA, CA
We should openly and fairly share our public resources and access.
Esteban Ojeda SAN FRANCISCO, CA
im a filmmaker and I love nature.
Ellen Leanse SAN FRANCISCO, CA
More open space means better, safer cycling. All of that means better health and life for all in our area, and beyond. It's part of a bigger (and needed) movement.
Alex Leanse SAN FRANCISCO, CA
I love to explore my home the Bay Area by bicycle. Opening the SF Watershed would allow explorers like me to enjoy our home so much more.
Jason Angell REDWOOD CITY, CA
I believe this area should be available for respectful use by members of the community.
Doug Mann SAN JOSE, CO
This is public land in an area that is starved for recreational hiking and mountain biking. It would be a regional gem.
Eve Davidson SCOTTS VALLEY, CA
Sustainable access and positive use helps protect the land and fosters stewardship.
john balawejder SC, CA
My lont time dream is a series of connected trails from Santa Cruz all the way to SF.This area is a real crux to lead from the Mid-Pen opens spaces to the final connection into SF.
Erin MacGeraghty MENLO PARK, CA
Love to breath the air in the outlands :)))
Christine Beard SAN FRANCISCO, CA
I would like to ride my horse on the trails.
Charles Fry SUNNYVALE, CA
The SF Watershed is the biggest missing link in the Bay Area Ridge Trail on the Peninsula. The rationale for keeping it closed to the public makes little sense, especially in light of the use of the property as a private resort by SFPUC staff.
Andrew Lieberman SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO, CA
I live in the area and enjoy hiking. It's a beautiful region, and my family and I would enjoy it and respect it.
Lynn Adams PACIFICA, CA
This makes an amazing loop from Pacifica to Pedro Point headlands to Devils Slide to Montara Mountain and back to Pacifica. A most amazing place with a most amazing ecosystem.
Ross Finlayson MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA
As a hiker and mountain biker, I would enjoy more opportunities to experience the watershed lands. If we want the public to support funding open space, it's dangerous to keep it locked up and inaccessible.
Bob Koehler PACIFICA, CA
The watershed should be open to hikers. It is an integral part of our community, and as public land should be enjoyed by all willing to make the effort to get there.
susan noonan PETALUMA, CA
These are public lands and should be open to the public.
Che Lopez SAN JOSE, CA
We should have access to these beautiful lands
Lorie Kerr SANTA CLARA, CA
To hike and bicycle
Gary Parker SAN JOSE, CA
This parcel of property offers incredible outdoors opportunities. Please open the SF Watershed for recreational use.
Andrea Carosella MORGAN HILL, CA
We are loosing our rights to our land and we need places to get away from the stress of the day to day.
sebastien praly BEN LOMOND, CA
We need to set a precedence to open many watersheds in the bay area and Santa Cruz to mountain biking.
Courtney Carreras BELMONT, CA
This public land should be opened for responsible use.
Bruce Dorman FELTON, CA
Though I now live in Felton just outside Santa Cruz I lived in Half Moon Bay for 4 years and still regularly hike and bike the legal trails in San Mateo county. I would love to have access to recreation opportunities in the SF Watershed.
Magdalena Bartilsson BELMONT, CA
Andy Howse SAN BRUNO, UNITED STATES
The reasons for the watershed being closed are pure hypocrisy. This cannot stand!