With so much beautiful coastline, why spend so much effort to restore Pedro Point Headlands?
This is a good question!
Pedro Point Headlands not only provides the backdrop to Pacifica’s layers of ridgelines and valleys and boasts spectacular views and wild trails, but it is perfectly situated to maintain ecological resilience in the face of climate change. The Nature Conservancyhas studied which features are most important to the preservation of resilient ecosystems in an uncertain future, and have determined two that are critically important: diversity of ecosystems and wildlife corridors. Each are briefly discussed below.
Diversity of Ecosystems
The Headlands is particularly resilient because it has a variety of ecosystems in close proximity. This gives plants and animals the opportunity to move to nearby locations when conditions if their original habitat become intolerable. With windswept bluffs and protected valleys, fog shrouded slopes and sun blasted summits, and elevations from sea level to 650 feet, Pedro Point Headlands has a wealth of microclimates packed into its 255 acres.
Headlands has rare and sensitive Coastal Bluff Scrub, Pacific Reed Grass Prairie, and Red Fescue Meadows, as well as xeric and mesic scrub, riparian, and novel Eucalyptus/native shrub habitats. Pedro Rock is breeding ground for harbor seals and seabirds, and has the only known population of bird-rock goldfields in San Mateo County.
At the Pedro Point Headlands nursery, many seedlings and salvaged plants, including three species of Indian paintbrush, are being grown to be planted onsite. Kathy Kellerman, PLT Board member, is overseeing the on-site nursery. To maximize diversity and resilience, she plans to reintroduce about 20-25 plant species to the Headlands. She and her team of volunteers will start planting thousands of seedlings as soon as the rains come!
Go HERE to learn more about the ecosystems at the Headlands.
Another key feature of the Headlands that supports ecosystem resiliency is presence of protected wildlife corridors. Free movement of plants and animals prevents fragmentation and loss of genetic diversity. Pedro Point Headlands is one of the few sizable wildlands West of Highway 1, and since the tunnels have diverted traffic, animals can freely move from coastal Pedro Point Headlands to Montara Mountain, Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA) lands, and the SF Public Utilities Commission (PUC) Crystal Springs watershed.
Deer, bobcats, mountain lions, gray foxes, and coyotes can roam through large territories amid an otherwise heavily populated area. The Headlands is even home to the rubber boa (Genus: Charina); these heavy bodied snakes are fossorial–adapted to burrowing and living underground. They have a blunt tail tip that is used for defense and tend to prey on nestling rodents.
Escape to Nature
Pedro Point Headlands also meets an ever-growing need for urbanites to escape to nature. We anticipate that San Mateo County Parks will acquire the headlands as an extension of Devil’s Slide Trail. Soon the California Coastal Trail will skirt the Headlands and provide safe hiking, bicycling, and equestrian passage from Pacifica to points South.
The Pacifica Land Trust has received abundant support for the Pedro Point Headlands Restoration and Trails Project. California Division of Off-Highway Vehicles funded restoration of damaged lands, San Mateo County Measure A funds provided for trail improvements and re-vegetation support, and California Coastal Conservancy supported planning and permitting of the Project. Through this public-private partnership, Pedro Point Headlands will be preserved as a refuge for people and wildlife alike.
Gray fox image, Mercury News.