The San Francisco Bay Area is fortunate to still have iconic species like mountain lion, bobcat, Golden Eagle, and steelhead trout. Gone are the grizzly bear, but many species that represent the region’s former biological richness are still present. This is in large part due to the amount of remaining available habitat that rings the bay. However, one has only to look at the long list of Bay Area threatened and endangered species to know that remaining natural open space is just barely enough. And these species face even greater threats in the future. The Bay Area population is expected to increase by 2 million people between 2010 and 2040. The effects of climate change such as prolonged drought, severe storms, and sea level rise threaten species survival and stress natural communities. Unless we are willing to allow the region’s species to go extinct and further destabilize our unique ecological communities, we must act to ensure enough land is preserved and in the right configurations for species to adapt and survive. Because species and habitats do not adhere to county or other administrative boundaries, we must look at the region as a whole in order to ensure their survival. That’s why strategically linking the work of the 65+ Bay Area land conservation organizations is so vital. Through a framework called the Bay Area Conservation Lands Network, the Bay Area Open Space Council draws together these organizations to collaboratively identify priority areas in the region that are the most important to protect and steward.

The goal of Conservation Lands Network (CLN) framework is to ensure that people working at the local level have the information they need to target regionally significant habitats for conservation. We believe that only by coordinating protection of land at the regional level will we ensure the long-term resilience of the region’s diverse species and ecological communities in the face of challenges such as climate change, drought, population growth and other pressures. The CLN provides the scientific foundation, planning framework, searchable databases, and mapping that enable the region’s land conservation organizations and agencies to identify regional priority areas for conservation. At the CLN’s core is a mapped network of priority lands that, if protected and stewarded, will provide the necessary space for nature to thrive in the Bay Area. The data and information disseminated through the CLN framework and tools also support efforts to secure and leverage somewhat limited funding and collectively protect and effectively manage 2 million priority acres that are required to sustain a viable network of ecologically important lands in the greater Bay Area. These areas double as the parkland that is so integral with the quality of life we enjoy in the Bay Area.

The Conservation Lands Network 2.0: Science Expansion Project is a science-based process to update the CLN. The key activities of the Science Expansion are:
1) to refresh the CLN input data, re-run Marxan, and redesign the network;
2) to update the Bay Area Protected Areas Database to include newly conserved lands;
3) to collate and interpret co-benefit reporting data and metrics related to climate change and conservation co-benefits such as ecosystem services valuation;
4) to assess the user experience of the CLN;
5) to develop Key Performance Indicators and an online updatable dashboard;
6) to modernize the website and the user interface of the Explorer Tool, drawing enhancements from the end user assessment; and
7) to launch a communications campaign to reach the CLN target audiences to educate them about the newly enhanced and expanded Conservation Lands Network.

Who Is Involved

The Steering Committee is comprised of conservation experts from across the 10 counties of the greater Bay Area.


  • Dick Cameron, Director of Science, Land Program, The Nature Conservancy
  • Tosha Comendant, Conservation Science Manager, Pepperwood Foundation
  • Peter Cowan, Director of Conservation Science, Peninsula Open Space Trust
  • Deanne DiPietro, Conservation Project Coordinator, Conservation Biology Institute
  • Sharon Farrell, Vice President, Stewardship and Conservation, Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy
  • Abigail Fateman, Executive Director, East Contra Costa County Habitat Conservancy
  • Matt Freeman, Assistant General Manager, Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority
  • Matt Gerhart, Bay Area Program Manager, State Coastal Conservancy
  • Dan Gluesenkamp, Executive Director, California Native Plant Society
  • Matt Graul, Chief of Stewardship, East Bay Regional Park District
  • Nathan Greig, GIS Data Analyst, Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District
  • Robin Grossinger, Director, Resilient Landscapes Program, San Francisco Estuary Institute
  • Nicole Heller, Anthropocene Curator, Carnegie Museum of Natural History
  • Brian Holt, Chief of Planning/GIS, East Bay Regional Park District
  • Anne Morkill, Wildlife Refuge Complex Manager, US Fish and Wildlife Service
  • Bryan Largay, Conservation Director, Land Trust of Santa Cruz County
  • Kirk Lenington, Natural Resources Manager, Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District
  • Jared Lewis, Senior Ecologist/GIS Analyst, Applied Technology & Science, A-T-S
  • Mischon Martin, Chief of Natural Resources & Science, Marin Open Space District
  • Lech Naumovich, Executive Director, Golden Hour Restoration Institute
  • Kellyx Nelson, Executive Director, San Mateo Resource Conservation District
  • Lena Pollastro, Land Programs Manager, Napa Land Trust
  • Paul Ringgold, Chief Program Officer, Save the Redwoods League
  • Nancy Schaefer, Bay Area Program Manager, California Rangeland Trust
  • Allison Schichtel, Conservation GIS Coordinator, Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation & Open Space District
  • Carrie Schloss, Spatial Data Scientist, The Nature Conservancy
  • Cyndy Shafer, Natural Resource Program Manager, California State Parks
  • Dylan Skybrook, Network Manager, Santa Cruz Mountains Stewardship Network
  • Edmund Sullivan, Executive Officer, Santa Clara Valley Habitat Agency
  • Sam Veloz, Climate Adaptation Group Director, Point Blue Conservation Science


The purpose of these focus teams is to capture information on species that may not have been collected by the Conservation Lands Network’s coarse filter analysis. Focus team experts select fine filter conservation target species including plants, mammals, fish, amphibians, reptiles, invertebrates, and abiotic elements such as unique soil types, streams, and ponds. Three new focus teams are focused on characterizng the challenges and opportunities across the Bay Area with respect to stewardship, rangelands, and policy, funding & land use planning.


  • Heath Bartosh, Senior Botanist, Nomad Ecology
  • Julie Evens, Vegetation Program Director, California Native Plant Society
  • Janet Klein, Natural Resources Program Manager, Marin Municipal Water District
  • Jodi McGraw, Ecologist, Jodi McGraw Consulting
  • Lech Naumovich, Executive Director, Golden Hour Restoration Institute
  • Joan Schwan, Vegetation Ecologist, Prunuske Chatham, Inc.
  • Andrea Williams, Vegetation Ecologist, Marin Municipal Water District
  • Karen Whitestone, Conservation Analyst, California Native Plant Society
  • Todd Keeler-Wolf, Senior Vegetation Ecologist, California Department of Fish and Wildlife


  • Steven Bobzien, Ecological Services Coordinator, East Bay Regional Park District
  • Tanya Diamond, Wildlife Ecologist & GIS Analyst, Pathways for Wildlife
  • Morgan Gray, Conservation Analyst, Pepperwood Foundation
  • Ken Hickman, Wildlife Scientist, Independent
  • Rick Hopkins, Senior Conservation Biologist, Live Oak Associates, Inc.
  • Dave Johnston, Associate Ecologist, H.T. Harvey and Associates
  • William Lidicker, Professor of Integrative Biology Emeritus, UC Berkeley
  • Bill Merkle, Wildlife Ecologist, Golden Gate National Recreation Area
  • Gretchen Padgett-Flohr, PhD, President of Californian Environmental Services
  • Lindsey Rich, Postdoctoral Scholar, UC Berkeley
  • Ahiga Snyder, Wildlife Ecologist, Pathways for Wildlife
  • Susan E. Townsend, PhD, Wildlife Ecology and Consulting
  • Jessie Quinn, Senior Ecologist, Great Ecology
  • Yiwei Wang, Executive Director, San Francisco Bay Bird Observatory


  • Doug Bell, Wildlife Program Manager, East Bay Regional Park District
  • Neil Clipperton, Bird Conservation Statewide Coordinator, California Department of Fish and Wildlife
  • Eric Jepsen, Wildlife Biologist, Garcia and Associates
  • Robin Leong, Board Member, Napa Solano Audubon
  • Shawn Lockwood, Wildlife Biologist, Santa Clara Valley Water District
  • Tom Gardali, Pacific Coast and Central Valley Group Director, Point Blue
  • Bill Merkle, Wildlife Ecologist, Golden Gate National Recreation Area
  • Steve Rottenborn, Wildlife Ecologist, H.T. Harvey & Associates
  • Sandra Scoggin, Conservation Program Coordinator, San Francisco Bay Joint Venture
  • Rebecca Shwartz Lesberg, San Francisco Bay Area Director, Audubon California
  • Yiwei Wang, Executive Director, San Francisco Bay Bird Observatory


  • Heather Benko, Environmental Scientist, California Department of Water Resources Riverine Stewardship Program
  • Laurel Collins, Geomorphologist, Watershed Sciences
  • David Cook, Senior Environmental Specialist, Sonoma County Water Agency
  • Darren Fong, Aquatic Ecologist, Golden Gate National Recreation Area
  • Letitia Grenier, Resilient Landscapes Program Director, San Francisco Estuary Institute
  • Leslie Koenig, Senior Biologist, Swaim Biological Inc.
  • Robert Leidy, Ecologist, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
  • Russ Liebig, Fisheries Biologist, Stillwater Sciences
  • Lisa Micheli, President & CEO, Pepperwood Foundation
  • Ken Schwarz, Principal, Horizon Water and Environment
  • Jerry Smith, Associate Professor, Biological Sciences, San Jose State University
  • Esther Tracy, Environmental Scientist, California Department of Water Resources


  • Esther Cole Adelsheim, Conservation Program Manager, Land Use and Environmental Planning, Stanford University
  • Steve Bobzien, Ecological Services Coordinator, East Bay Regional Park District
  • Michael Marangio, Consulting Wildlife Biologist, Independent
  • Eric Smith, Senior Ecologist and GIS Specialist, Vollmar Natural Lands Consulting
  • Natalie Stauffer-Olsen, Staff Scientist, Trout Unlimited
  • Karen Swaim, Senior Wildlife Biologist, Swaim Biological Inc.


  • Melissa Hippard, Strategic Partnership Manager, Santa Clara County Parks
  • Joshua Hugg, Governmental Affairs Specialist, Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District
  • Jennifer Koepcke, Director, Institutional Engagement, Peninsula Open Space Trust
  • Eva Kuczynski, Senior Public Grants Program Manager, The Trust for Public Land
  • Liz O’Donoghue, Director of Infrastructure and Land Use, The Nature Conservancy
  • John Woodbury, General Manager, Napa County Regional Park and Open Space District
  • Kevin Wright, Government and External Affairs Manager, Marin County Parks


  • Sheila Barry, Cooperative Extension Livestock Advisor, UC Berkeley
  • James Bartolome, Rangeland Ecology Professor, UC Berkeley
  • Lisa Bush, Retired Rangeland Management Consultant
  • Michelle Cooper, Stewardship Manager, Marin Agricultural Land Trust
  • Larry Ford, Senior Rangeland Ecologist, LD Ford Rangeland Conservation Science
  • Grey Hayes, Education and Research Coordinator, Swanton Pacific Ranch
  • Lynn Huntsinger, Professor of Rangeland Ecology and Management, UC Berkeley
  • Jim Jensen, Stewardship Project Manager, Marin Agricultural Land Trust
  • Luke Macaulay, Cooperative Extension Specialist, UC Berkeley
  • Nancy Schaefer, Bay Area Program Manager, California Rangeland Trust
  • Darrell Sweet, Rancher, Sweet Ranches
  • Karen Sweet, Director, California Rangeland Conservation Coalition


  • Sharon Farrell, Vice President of Stewardship & Conservation, Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy
  • Sue Gardner, Director of Stewardship, Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy
  • Matt Graul, Chief of Stewardship, East Bay Regional Park District
  • Janet Klein, Director of Conservation Science Programs, One Tam
  • Bryan Largay, Conservation Director, Land Trust of Santa Cruz County
  • Bob Neale, Stewardship Director, Sonoma Land Trust
  • Daniel Olstein, Director of Land Programs and Stewardship, Peninsula Open Space Trust
  • Brendan O’Neil, Natural Resource Program Manager, California State Parks – Mendocino Coast District
  • Lew Stringer, Associate Director of Natural Resources, Presidio Trust
  • Jeff Wilcox, Managing Ecologist, Sonoma Mountain Ranch Preservation Foundation


  • Tom Robinson, Project Coordinator, tom@openspacecouncil.org
  • Stu Weiss, Science Advisor, stu@creeksidescience.com
  • Jayita Bhojwani, Conservation GIS Intern
  • Angel Hertslet, Project Manager (former)
  • Raphaela Floreani-Buzbee, Conservation GIS Intern (former)


Why Now?

There are compelling reasons we’re doing this now: In order to keep the CLN useful and measurable, it must be updated. The conservation community has protected over 130,000 acres of land since 2011, much of those meet habitat conservation goals set forth in the CLN. We need to measure that success and set new goals. There are new climate change, groundwater, and sustainable development policies and regional priorities with which we need to integrate. It is time to bring the region’s conservation planning professionals back together to share ideas, data, and the latest practices. The original process to develop the CLN had an invigorating effect on the region with several follow-on conservation planning projects by local agencies and organizations. We aim to have a similar effect with the Science Expansion by collectively raising the bar with respect to measuring and reporting the multiple co-benefits of biodiversity conservation. We’re doing this by:

  1. Aggregating and analyzing the best scientific data
  2. Involving the region’s leading biologists, ecologists, and practitioners in land conservation
  3. Developing and disseminating information in ways that the conservation community (practitioners, leaders, funders, land-use planners, policy-makers, elected officials, advocacy groups, scientists, journalists, and the general public) can understand and use

Get Involved

We are stronger together. Consider helping us strengthen the Conservation Lands Network data and tools by engaging in any of the following ways: Become a Reviewer/Tester. If you make use of environmental data in your work (or are a data manager and have information to share), help us by reviewing our data products and web tools as they become available. Reviewers/testers will read data sheets, inspect maps, test drive mapping tools, and submit their input through online surveys. Time requirement: 2-5 hours per month starting in November 2017. Become a Tracker . If you are an environmental specialist, conservation practitioner, or similar who needs credible and interpreted natural resource data for your work, track the Science Expansion project and learn how the CLN information can help you and the region. Trackers will receive updates on project milestones, summaries of Steering Committee and Focus Team meetings, and our blogs. Time requirement: Up to you! Become an Advocate . Are you a supporter of conservation science and planning tools, and see how they help inform decision-making in the Bay Area? Sign up as an Advocate to receive progress updates and key findings of the Science Expansion project. To engage in these ways or simply subscribe to the CLN blog, click here. You can also follow the project on our blog and social media:


The 2019 Science Expansion update is made possible with support from:

A special thank you to GreenInfo Network for their support building the website, developing the Explorer Tool, creating innumerable maps and providing invaluable guidance.