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In SF Bay Area, nature so close to home and accessible for free

/ 02:42 PM February 28, 2014
  • Wooded, hilly open spaces for hiking, riding and picnicking
  • Shielded from residential and commercial development
  • Acquired and protected by public-funded Midpen Open Space District

CUPERTINO, California — Ever wonder what’s hidden in those rolling hills and misty mountains to the west  as you drive on 280 from Daly City to Highway 17 going over to Santa Cruz? Well, there’s gold in them thar hills — gold in the serenity and surrounding natural beauty, available – for FREE – to anyone who knows they’re there.

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The Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District (or Midpen for short) is trying to spread the word of this perk by inviting members of the ethnic media to a luncheon and wine tasting at the Pichetti Winery in the Cupertino hills on a beautiful spring-like day last week.

Through a winding road up the Cupertino hills and into a wooded rustic enclave we found Pichetti Winery, one of California’s oldest wineries. There, the Midpen District explained its efforts to acquire and preserve as much open space for present and future generations to enjoy.

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Midpen also said it has to ramp up its effort to let the public know that these open spaces are there for them to visit, hike, bike and go horseback riding in. They can have picnics and barbecues there or just come for some peace and quiet and fresh air.

Natural preserves are owned and managed by the state or county. But they are often right next to large tracts of private land that are available for housing. With San Francisco and the Santa Clara Valley so near, it would have been easy for residential development to take over the hills and valleys of the San Francisco Peninsula.

But a group of visionaries 40 years ago created the Midpeninsiula Regional Open Space District, which has purchased and protected 62,000 acres of open space in 26 areas. As a result, the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District, which is funded by taxpayers, now owns and has control of all that open space, not developers or private residents. And they’re so close to home and all accessible free of charge.

Midpen offers a whole range of services mid-week and weekends that are open to the public of all ages free of charge. Visit www.openspace.org

PHOTOS BY MANDY CHAVEZ

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TAGS: biking, Cupertino Hills, hiking, Midpen Open Space District, open space, Parks, Pichetti Winery, picnicking, Recreation, trails
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