The Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District reached a major milestone last week by approving the transfer of 240 acres of land south of Half Moon Bay. The property transfer completes a contiguous stretch of protected open space and agricultural land stretching from Purisima Creek Redwoods Preserve to the Pacific Ocean. 

Midpen General Manager Ana María Ruiz said the transfer is the last link in a decades-long vision to connect the Santa Cruz Mountains to the coast in support of agriculture, wildlife and people. 

“We now have a wonderful opportunity to plan and build the Purisima-to-the-Sea Trail, linking the Bay Area Ridge Trail along the Skyline corridor with the California Coastal Trail along the ocean bluffs,” said Ruiz in a prepared statement. 

Efforts to connect the Purisima preserve to the Pacific have spanned decades, involving multiple agencies and a series of multimillion-dollar land deals. In 1998, the Peninsula Open Space Trust began protecting the Purisima properties. In 2006, shortly after Midpen’s boundaries expanded to include the Coastside, the agency began acquiring that land from the Peninsula Open Space Trust. Midpen also bought an additional property linking Purisima to the ocean from the University of California in 2009. 

The property south of Half Moon Bay, which includes steep hillsides and grassy ridgeline, will officially transfer to Midpen in June and comes from the Giustis, a three-generation Coastside farming family. The Giustis will retain the lower farm fields where they grow Brussels sprouts, artichokes, beans, pumpkins and hay. 

Midpen plans to restore the area by cleaning up abandoned oil wells and improving adjacent ponds and creeks for local wildlife. The agency will also look into the viability of reintroducing cattle grazing to the property.  

Midpen officials also said that the project’s next steps will involve working with the public to plan the Purisima-to-the-Sea Trail while considering the needs of neighboring farmers, ranchers, locals and open space visitors. 

If completed, the long-awaited public access trail would be the first recreational route on the Peninsula spanning the entire distance from the Santa Cruz Mountains to Highway 1. 

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