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Adam Garcia

Conservation by Collaboration

The new and improved Priority Conservation Area (PCA) program is in full swing. Priority Conservation Areas are just what they sound like—areas that have been officially designated as priorities for land conservation.

PCAs are critical for conserving the lands that provide clean air and water, locally produced food, wildlife habitat, and outdoor recreation. There are 101 PCAs throughout the Bay Area and with the deadline for new PCA nominations looming at the end of May, now is the time for action.

Greenbelt Alliance has been meeting with representatives and agencies from all nine Bay Area counties to highlight opportunities for new PCAs, which are based off of scientific criteria in four categories: regional recreation, agriculture, natural landscapes, and urban greening. Along the way, these collaborations have led to some rich discourse and some exciting potential projects.

For instance, the region’s largest agricultural producer, Solano County, unveiled a creative approach to addressing the dual challenge of improving a bridge for farm-to-market access and completing a vital link of a regional trail along Putah Creek. With limited funding for bridge maintenance and trail upgrades, this project is collaborative and efficient in that new investments provide a win-win opportunity by serving more than a single purpose.

Similarly in the East Bay, two cities and a local college are working together on a project to restore and enhance San Leandro Creek. The City of Oakland and Merritt College recently held a workshop to ask the community members where they’d like to see a new urban greening PCA. The prevailing vision was a proposal for the area around San Leandro Creek. The proposal, which touches on all four PCA categories, would restore fish passage up the creek, reinvigorate a fallow farm, and connect the Bay and Ridge trails with an adjacent recreational path joining the two regional trail networks.

The Priority Conservation Area program is just one of many cutting edge programs that help the Bay Area address the challenges of a growing region.

[Update] With the window of opportunity for designating new PCAs closing soon, Greenbelt Alliance and the Trust for Public Land hosted a webinar about urban greening PCAs in February. Contact us for more information.

Photo: Dustin Scarpitti

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