Marin County Parks and Open Space Department

Marin County Parks turned 40 in November 2012! Here is the world premiere of our new video “Celebrating 40 Years of Marin County Parks”, hosted by Peter Coyote.

Marin County Parks For 40 years, Marin County Parks has served to keep Marin extraordinary, protecting and stewarding thousands of acres of ridgetops and rolling hills, flowing streams, dramatic coastlines, and over 200 miles of trails. But this county we know and love could have been a very different place. The opening of the Golden Gate Bridge in 1937, connecting Marin to San Francisco, ushered in a new era of development. By 1971, residents watched as subdivisions crept up hillsides and across ridges. A new city of 125,000 was planned for the shores of Tomales Bay, with four-lane highways connecting west Marin to east. As outlined in the county’s 1971 landmark planning study, “Can the Last Place Last?” pressures for sprawling urban development and new highways threatened to change fundamentally Marin’s physical appearance and environmental quality. As the plan noted, this threat was the consequence of “simply letting the results of doing things the same old way pile up for a few more years.”

Marin Agricultural Land TrustIn response, local visionaries in the 1960s and 1970s started a heroic movement that reached all corners of Marin—a movement to preserve critical natural lands and family farms that resulted in creation of two National Park Service units, the Marin Agricultural Land Trust, and voter approval of the Marin County Regional Park District (now Marin County Parks). In the past four decades, Marin County Parks has acquired hundreds of undeveloped parcels from willing sellers, totaling more than 20,000 acres. Much of this acreage became open space preserves—now 34 in total. Our preserves are complemented by four regional parks and 27 other park facilities including a swimming pool, two deep water fishing piers, two newly renovated boat launches, tennis courts, basketball courts, volleyball courts, playgrounds, sports fields, open turf areas, an award-winning skate park, a disk golf course, a nine-hole golf course and driving range, batting cages, picnic sites, extensive trails, and paved multi-use paths.

new generation of Marin parks leaders Today, a new generation of leaders joins those of the 60s and 70s to ensure the legacy endures—a beautiful, sustainable system of parks and open space that cleans the air we breathe and the water we drink, helps preserve our natural world, provides places for us to commune with and play in the out-of-doors, and contributes to the excellent quality of life we cherish in Marin.