Early morning view of hills with scattered trees rising out of the mist


The first priority of open space is the conservation value of the land. This includes such things as streams, forests, animals and plant life. Recreation facilities like trails, restrooms, and parking are designed so visitors can enjoy the natural world with little ecological impact. Parks provide more intensive recreation and offer highly developed facilities, including playing fields, motor sport tracks, playgrounds, picnic pavilions, and swimming pools. The emphasis is on providing a broad range of visitor activities.

For more information, please check out Visitors.

The Open Space Authority holds title to some lands, has conservation easements on others, and has contributed funding to the preservation of open space by other agencies. All of these actions protect important undeveloped land and contribute to the Agency's total protected acreage.

For more information, please visit Protected Lands.

Usually a property is closed after it’s purchased so staff can conduct a survey of various features. This helps determine the best alignment for trails and identify other concerns. For instance, there may be resources that need special protection. Before planning for new facilities can begin, the Open Space Authority must be sure money will be available for ongoing maintenance as well as design and construction. The design process itself can be complex, requiring resource studies, permits, and public review. Managing a project from start to finish can take a number of years.

Check Protected Lands for more information.

Funding for Authority is derived from benefit assessments adopted annually by the Board. In 1994, the Board approved formation of Assessment District 1, which levies an assessment of $12 on single family homes and an adjusted rate on commercial and industrial properties. This provides $4 million in revenues. In 2014, Measure Q was passed by voters that generates approximately $7.9 million per year for open space protection. In November 2020, Measure T, a permanent renewal of Measure Q with no tax increase, was overwhelmingly passed by voters with 81% approval. The Agency also strives to leverage its funds through grants, projects with other agencies, and private donations. See the Agency's Gift Acceptance and Recognition Policy here.

For more information, visit our Investing in Nature page.
The Authority established ten priority study areas in order to collect information about land within its boundaries. The data helps identify preservation needs, establish priorities, and allocate funds. Priority is given to acquisitions that can serve a broad public, adjoin other open space, or are especially at risk of development. Lands that are visible to the urban area or can meet multiple preservation goals also have a high priority.

Visit 10 Priority Conservation Areas for more details.
A special district is a governmental agency, other than a city or county, organized for specified purposes within a defined boundary. School districts and fire protection agencies are familiar examples. Special districts have many of the same powers as other local governments. They also have the same responsibility for openness and accountability.

Want to learn more? Visit Public Information for more details.
Lions have been seen on Rancho Cañada del Oro Open Space Preserve. Any notices of recent sightings are posted on the preserve’s message boards. Precautions for visitors include hiking with a friend, keeping children within reach, and being alert to your surroundings at all times. If you do see a lion, don’t approach and don’t run. Try to appear large and menacing. Speak in a loud, firm voice. Pick up and hold children. Don’t crouch or bend over. If the lion approaches, fight back.

Check Trail Conditions and Safety for updates.
Trails and facilities on the Authority’s preserves are open every day of the year. Check each Preserve’s page for current open and close times. Sierra Vista Open Space Preserve, Rancho Cañada del Oro Open Space Preserve, and Coyote Valley Open Space Preserve trails are occasionally closed during periods of heavy rain. Information about closures can be found on Trail Conditions and Safety.
In order to protect the natural resources and wildlife that make the preserves their home, dogs and other pets are prohibited on all Open Space Authority lands.
Volunteers can help with land stewardship projects or the Authority’s interpretive program. Learn more about Volunteer opportunties.