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Natural resource management refers to the management of land, water, soil, plants and animals and how people interact with these resources. Using a scientific understanding of ecology, natural resource management improves the quality of natural resources and the quality of life for those who enjoy them.

The Natural Resource Management division of the San Mateo County Parks Department is a skilled, well-informed team whose work is critically important to the ecological health and longevity of the County Parks system. Our parks contain an incredible diversity of habitats and support at least 138 rare, threatened, or endangered species.

San Mateo County’s open spaces face pressure from urbanization, development, public access, habitat loss, climate change, rising seas, and wildfire. Flora and fauna rely on protected lands for habitat and to move throughout the region. Even in areas where lands are protected from development, human activity in and near parks can disturb habitat. Climate change, including rising seas, changing precipitation patterns, and increased risk of wildfire, are projected to increase. Our NRM program is responding to these threats by implementing its core areas of focus, working collaboratively with other County departments (Public Works, Planning, and the Office of Sustainability) and stressing the importance of healthy natural spaces through community engagement.

Core areas of focus include:

  1. Habitat Restoration & Invasive Species Control
  2. Wildlife Monitoring & Management
  3. Forestry, Arboriculture, & Wildfire Risk Reduction
  4. Water Resources & Water Quality
  5. Permitting and Permit Compliance
  6. Geographic Information Systems
  7. Community Engagement

Our NRM program leverages vital partnerships with other regional land-managing agencies and the community in order to accomplish landscape-level and adaptive resource management, to fill gaps in capacity, and to share data and information. 

Healthy, thriving ecosystems provide numerous ‘ecosystem services,’ such as clean drinking water, reduced carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, reduced risk of wildfire, habitat resiliency, improved public health and well-being, and are essential to how parks benefit the greater community. San Mateo County Parks’ NRM Program seeks to utilize parks for today’s needs and to preserve them for generations to come.

Vegetation Management Guidelines

Our Vegetation Management Guidelines have been developed to help San Mateo County Park staff make informed decisions for future vegetation management priorities and actions. In addition, they provide user-friendly “how to” advice to park rangers, volunteers, and others to help select vegetation management actions that are most effective.

Position on Herbicide Use

The San Mateo County Parks Natural Resource Management team is dedicated to improving habitat and protecting biodiversity within our parks. To curb the spread of invasive plants that have greatly altered many of California's natural plant communities we employ many techniques, such as biological control, habitat manipulation, modification of cultural practices, and use of resistant varieties, but when these techniques prove ineffective or economically infeasible, chemical methods are an important tool in our management toolkit. When we do use chemicals, we do so in accordance with established guidelines and in a highly targeted manner that minimizes risks to human health.

Learn more about San Mateo County Parks use of pesticides in the attached "SMC Parks Position on Herbicide Use."