History of San Bruno Mountain Watch

David Schooley tabling for Mountain Watch.For 40 years San Bruno Mountain Watch (SBMW), initially through its founder David Schooley, has maintained a commitment to our mission: to preserve and expand the native ecosystems of San Bruno Mountain, in perpetuity. Our early work focused on challenges to several development proposals and formation of a park to secure as much of the mountain as possible as open space.  After endangered species were discovered on some of the remaining privately-held land, we again lobbied for more land to be added to San Bruno Mountain State and County Park.

Our work has since expanded, as we continue to closely monitor development threats, land use policies and government/agency decisions that could lead to destruction of the habitat.  These threats are not rare, given the mountain’s location adjacent to the San Francisco and surrounded by four suburban cities Our continuing leadership and advocacy, in partnership with the Trust for Public Land (TPL), protected two riparian canyons with high densities of federally-listed endangered species through a 1990 purchase which transferred ownership to the State of California.  The two canyons are now under the protection of the State Department of Fish & Game.  TPL recently stepped in again to help save another property we saw as critical to protect - the Shellmound Valley.  This is the largest and oldest undisturbed Ohlone cultural site left on San Francisco Bay. 

The 1983 San Bruno Mountain Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP), the first in the country, allowed for the destruction of endangered species in the course of development. We have opposed this concept and have continually fought to overturn its consequences on endangered species habitat on the mountain, successfully forestalling or decreasing the size of development in some cases. In 2003, and again in 2009, we successfully used the Clean Water Act to challenge environmental damage around the mountain.

SBMW’s successful conservation and legal efforts are complemented by our longstanding commitment to education and outreach. We maintain an extensive archive of documents, photos and artifacts relating to all facets of the mountain's history, both in its immediate local context and in its wide-ranging significance.  San Bruno Mountain has been described as a natural classroom,  an "ideal site for biology classes and research" and a "prime location for continued ecological and evolutionary investigations," according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. We share these views, and for years we have led Saturday hikes on the mountain, and yearly lead several school groups on field trips: 880 individuals have hiked on the mountain with us in 2010.  We also give slide shows to schools and community groups.

As part of our stewardship program, now our largest program, we intentionally recruit and train volunteers. In 2009, 1217 people worked at our stewardship sites: working on wetlands restoration, native plant nursery work, and grasslands stewardship. These volunteers accounted for 3650 hours of stewardship work.

SBMW began as a grass roots organization and today remains volunteer-driven.  A board of 11 and 2 full-time staff work diligently on multiple fronts to protect San Bruno Mountain.  SBMW board members play active roles in program planning, community outreach, fundraising, stewardship and leading hikes. They regularly assist with tasks ranging from event production to studying and commenting on legal documents, door to door canvassing and nursery construction.

San Bruno Mountain Watch collaborates with a range of groups, including the California Native Plant Society, and Friends of San Bruno Mountain.  We are affiliated with the Bay Area Open Space Council, and the Land Trust Alliance, and the California Endangered Species Coalition, a federation of environmental organizations working on the reauthorization and strengthening of the Federal Endangered Species Act.  We have worked with the Trust for Public Land and The Archeological Conservancy to preserve the Ohlone shell mounds on the border of Brisbane and South San Francisco.  We also work with the San Mateo County Parks Department, Brisbane, Colma, Daly City, South San Francisco, and the California Department of Fish and Game.