Are San Mateo County Parks at Risk of Fires, Floods & Sea Level Rise?

Guest authored by Doug Silverstein

Wildfires in CaliforniaYou bet they are! Unfortunately. Inconveniently. And sadly.

Coyote Point Recreation Area sits at sea level. Crystal Springs Regional Trail parallels an active reservoir. And dozens of other SMC Parks — like Huddart, Wunderlich and San Pedro Valley — dot the expanse of our mature local forests.

Now 12 weeks and 6 hikes into the 2019 SMC Hike-a-Palooza, 40+ community leaders have collectively hiked  250+ miles of amazing San Mateo County Park trails.

We’re lucky to have these 22 wonderful open spaces that cross 16,000 acres, and the dozens of County Parks staff members committed to excellent stewardship.

But will these parks be here for us in our lifetime – 10, 20 or 50 years? How about for our kids and their kids?


For Generations and Generations

My children are 18 and 21. They’ll likely have kids in 2030. Those grandchildren of mine will live to New Year’s Eve 2099. That’s well beyond even our local and global best long-range plans such as:

In fact, our near-term-focused U.S. culture operates in seasons and school years, not decades or generations. That’s worked fine in the last half century without major threats to our health and happiness.

But the times, they are a changing… and fast. We’ve seen major global warming related disasters in this country in 2017 and 2018. Not just in the Arctic Circle or Sub-Saharan Africa. But, right here in California.

Fires, Floods, Drought, and Sea Level Rise

Do you have friends or family in Santa Rosa or Santa Barbara? Were you in the Bay Area last fall during the Camp Fire?

Did you check out the King Tides’ at the Ferry Building in January? Or maybe you know Pescadero residents without running water.

And then there’s the unusual weather patterns in Houston, North Carolina, Miami, and the Mid-West.

Here are links to a few global reality checks:

And some for California:

Even so, I’m Full of Hope

Despite the despair, I’m confident our community will rise to the challenge. And I remain hopeful our planet will survive and thrive because of our local leadership … including those who just hiked Huddart park and five previous Hike-a-Palooza treks. And because of our budding Green County San Mateo coalition. (More on that in the next blog.)

glorious parks

Individually, our county’s amazing environmental sustainability leaders and organizations promote green policy, develop clean technology, and empower community action. More importantly, together, we tackle huge challenges that meaningfully lower our local and global footprint.

Look out for our great work across business, education, government, and nonprofits. And all areas of sustainability – climate, energy, food, land, transit, waste and water. We’ll be identifying efficiencies, forming new partnerships, and exercising our collective voices and talents to implement impactful solutions.

Instead of fires and floods, I see sunshine and pints of hoppy ale. So, let’s celebrate in the workplace. And in the open space. See you there.

Doug Silverstein is a 23-year San Mateo County resident and local sustainability leader. As a volunteer for Citizens Environmental Council of Burlingame, Citizens Climate Lobby, Sustainable San Mateo County and others, Doug has used his decades of technology sales and marketing skills to champion local clean energy and transportation justice causes.

Join San Mateo County Parks Foundation and other San Mateo County sustainability leaders on one or more of these hikes. San Mateo County Parks Foundation inspires people to care for, learn about and enjoy San Mateo County Parks.


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