The tallest of Mt. Tamalpais’ three pinnacles, West Peak was leveled in the 1950s to create an Air Force base to defend San Francisco against a Cold War nuclear attack. The military eventually closed the base in the 1980s, leaving just under 10 acres of concrete, buildings, power lines, metal fences, pipes, and other infrastructure within the peak’s sweeping 360-degree views and rare serpentine habitats.
Thanks to a newly updated site analysis and renewed community engagement, that may all change.
For the past year, a team of engineers, landscape architects, geologists, biologists, and community scientists have been researching, sampling, surveying, and analyzing Mt. Tam’s West Peak to envision what the future of this unique and little-known site might look like.
This restoration feasibility study—supported by $450,000 of philanthropic funds raised by the Marin Municipal Water District (MMWD) and the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy—is the first comprehensive look at the site’s contamination levels, safety hazards, past soil movement and land disturbance, surface and groundwater flow patterns, habitat restoration options and remaining historic resources.
At the same time, a series of public walks and an online survey have provided community members a way to learn more about West Peak and share their vision for its future.
Parks Conservancy Project Manager Claire Mooney notes, “We’ve been working with a talented team of MMWD and Parks Conservancy staff, as well as folks that worked on a very similar project on Mt. Umunhum for the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District. Thanks to their efforts we now have a tremendous amount of site-specific information to bring to bear on defining a set of restoration concepts for West Peak.”
As the agency responsible for managing West Peak, MMWD will be the first to review and provide direction on the range of possible restoration options at their September 21st Watershed Committee meeting. The vetted restoration concepts will then be shared with the public from 5 – 8pm on October 5th at “From Base to Peak: An evening of exploration and discussion about the future of Mt. Tamalpais’ West Peak” being hosted by MMWD and One Tam at the Mill Valley Community Center.
Rather than a fixed set of ideas to choose from, the restoration options presented on October 5th will include a suite of scenarios for habitat restoration and public access. Members of the public will have the opportunity to weigh in on each of these aspects to help shape where on the spectrum of alternatives the project lands.
“Community engagement is vital and will inform a preferred restoration concept,” says MMWD Board Member Armando Quintero. “Even if you aren’t familiar with West Peak, there will be ample opportunities to learn more on October 5th, and we welcome and encourage anyone who loves Mt. Tam to come and be a part of shaping the future of this truly special place.”
The evening will include an interactive exhibit on West Peak’s history and the proposed restoration effort, and offer opportunities to ask questions and leave comments. Presentations from a small panel of project managers and community members will share key details about the feasibility study, restoration alternatives, and the importance of this project to Mt. Tam and its community of supporters, past, present, and future.
As a member of the One Tam LINC summer high school program said when visiting West Peak for the first time, “I like the amazing view and the fact that it’s a place to get away from society. It’s also very quiet, which is nice. It gives me an opportunity to reflect on my own thoughts.”
For those who can’t make it on October 5th, the exhibit will be on display in the Mill Valley Community Center’s lobby beginning October 2nd. Comments are also welcome at http://onetam.org/programs-and-projects/west-peak/ through the end of October. This website provides more information about the project, meetings, technical study findings and the development of restoration alternatives.
All of the community feedback received on October 5th and through the online survey will be considered in the development of the restoration alternative that will ultimately be selected by MMWD. Project managers are aiming to have a preferred alternative to present to the MMWD Board of Directors by the end of the year.
The restoration of West Peak effort relies on the generous support from the community, and with the help of dedicated volunteers. For information about contributing to this significant undertaking, and to learn about One Tam philanthropic opportunities, please contact Matt Leffert, Director of Philanthropic Initiatives for the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy, at (415) 561-3069 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Tamalpais Lands Collaborative (TLC) and One Tam Partners:
California State Parks
The California State Parks are dedicated to providing for the health, inspiration and education of the people of California by helping to preserve the state's biological diversity, protecting its most valued natural and cultural resources, and creating opportunities for high-quality outdoor recreation. www.parks.ca.gov.
Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy
The Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy is the nonprofit membership organization that supports the Golden Gate Recreation Area. Since 1981, the Parks Conservancy has provided support for site transformations, trail improvements, habitat restoration, research and conservation, volunteer and youth engagement, and interpretive and educational programs. In Marin, the Conservancy has restored habitat and trails, engaged youth and volunteers, and managed a variety of wildlife and plant monitoring programs. Learn more at www.parksconservancy.org.
Marin County Parks
Marin County offers an extensive system of regional and community parks, open space preserves, and trails for public use and enjoyment. It is dedicated to educating, inspiring, and engaging the people of Marin in the shared commitment of preserving, protecting, and enriching the natural beauty of Marin's parks and open spaces, and providing recreational opportunities for the enjoyment of all generations. www.marincountyparks.org.
Marin Municipal Water District
Marin Municipal Water District is a public utility providing water to 189,900 people in southern and central Marin County, and managing 21,635 acres of watershed lands open to public use. In operation since 1912, MMWD is the oldest municipal water district in California. The district’s mission is to manage natural resources in a sustainable manner and to provide customers with reliable, high-quality water at a reasonable price. www.marinwater.org.
National Park Service
The National Park Service (NPS) is a federal agency within the U.S. Department of the Interior charged with managing the preservation and public use of America’s most significant natural, scenic, historic, and cultural treasures. The NPS manages the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, which includes Mount Tamalpais, as well as 401 other park sites across the U.S. www.nps.gov/goga.
Media Contact: Emma Detwiler, email@example.com, 415-945-1592