25 Acres Added to San Bruno Mt. Park

SAN FRANCISCO, CA 9/9/2004- San Mateo County and the Trust for Public Land today announced the purchase and protection of 25.69 acres on the eastern side of San Bruno Mountain, wedged between Highway 101 and San Bruno Mountain State and County Park. The property, recently considered for commercial development, contains one of the oldest prehistoric Native American cultural sites in the Bay Area, a shell mound dating to 3,200 B.C.E. In addition, the property includes significant wetlands and habitat for two federally listed endangered species: the Mission Blue butterfly and the Callippe Silverspot butterfly. The property, valued at $1,285,000 is now part of San Bruno Mountain State and County Park.

“It is especially rewarding for the Trust for Public Land to once again expand San Bruno Mountain Park, a truly spectacular, wild place located in our own backyard. We are very grateful to our many donors and funders whose support make our work possible,” says Reed Holderman, executive director of the Trust for Public Land – California.

“I am absolutely delighted that this environmentally sensitive and historically important tract will now become part of San Bruno Mountain Park,” said Rep. Lantos “Through the efforts of Trust for Public Land as well as a significant grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that I fought to obtain, this critical land will be permanently protected,” added Rep. Lantos.

Funding for the purchase of the property came from several sources including $860,000 in federal monies from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service section six funds and $325,000 from the Caltrans Environmental Enhancement and Mitigation fund. In addition, TPL received $50,000 from the San Francisco Foundation and $50,000 from the Pajaro Valley Ohlone Indian Council toward the purchase of the property.

“The San Bruno Mountain project is an outstanding example of how the Interior Department makes building partnerships in states and communities across the country its highest priority,” said Steve Thompson, manager of the Fish and Wildlife Service’s California/Nevada Operations Office. “We are carrying out President Bush’s executive order that instructs federal departments and agencies such as the Interior Department to ensure that they carry out their statutory obligations in a manner that promotes cooperative conservation, with an emphasis on appropriate inclusion of local participation in federal decision making.”

“With the pristine environment that comprises San Bruno Mountain, this purchase will expand our efforts in preserving more sensitive habitat for the protection of the Mission Blue and the Callippe Silverspot butterflies,” said Supervisor Mark Church, President of the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors. “Furthermore, the preservation of the 5,000 year old Native American village and burial site will protect the sacred land for many generations of Ohlone Indians and serve as an historical reminder of our county’s indigenous people.”

The property wraps around the southeast base of the 1,314-foot San Bruno Mountain. The original plan for the property called for dense commercial development including three hotels and an office tower. These plans drew sharp criticism, and an eventual lawsuit, from environmental groups, including the locally-based San Bruno Mountain Watch, which resulted in an eventual out of court settlement and an agreement by the new owners, Myers Development Company to exclude the 25-acre site from its larger development plans and make the property available for public purchase.

The 5,000-year-old Native American village and burial site on the property is the largest and oldest in the Bay Area. Previous developers had proposed that the shell mound be covered with high-rise hotels, a conference center, and freeway ramps. Many Ohlone Indian descendents are pleased that the site, which contains possibly hundreds of burials, will remain undisturbed – preserving their ancestral and cultural significance.

“I am pleased that schoolchildren will be able to learn how our people lived in harmony and kept the land in balance. Hundreds of my ancestors are buried at the San Bruno shell mound. They buried all that belonged to the deceased and this meant that it should not be disturbed. We were taught not to even pick a flower from a grave. The Ohlone Siplichiquin shell mound holds the resting place of our ancestors and is sacred,” says Ohlone Tribal Leader Patrick Orozco.

According to Jack Myers, Chairman & Chief Executive Officer of Myers Development Company, “We were pleased to work with the Trust for Public Land to help protect this special and unique property as it is an amazing visual and cultural resource. The legacy of our development activities in this area will punctuated by this particular accomplishment.”

Myers Development Company, headquartered in San Francisco, has developed more than $1.2 billion of real estate in California and Hawaii since 1974. The company’s developments include high-rise office building, hotel, golf course, residential, shopping center, and industrial properties.

In 1983, San Bruno Mountain was the subject of the nation’s first habitat conservation plan. The plan allows for development of prime habitat for two endangered butterfly species in exchange for measures to improve the butterflies’ survival elsewhere. Many people and organizations have fought long and hard to protect San Bruno Mountain’s unique ecology. In 1990, TPL bought and protected 93 acres of the mountain in Buckeye and Owl canyons.

Posted 9/2004