Photo: Jen Hale

Together we can do more

You're invited to a regional conversation.

Upcoming Gathering


Conservation and Cannabis: A Complex and Timely Matter for Bay Area Lands

There is an increasing awareness that illegal cannabis operations are having negative impacts on many Bay Area public and private lands. They impact the environments where they are located, often introducing chemicals that harm plants and wildlife, diverting water from creeks and streams, and creating areas that are unsafe to manage. The statewide legalization of recreational cannabis could address issues like these in a number of ways. Land managers and government officials are working to determine what the future holds — Will illegal grows decrease? Will agricultural land decrease? How much tax revenue will generated by cannabis sales?

Join us at our Fall Gathering on Thursday, September 28, 2017 for what is sure to be a lively discussion on the implications of cannabis legalization for Bay Area lands. You will hear perspectives on:

  • If legalization and regulation will make land management challenges easier to address for Bay Area conservationists and agriculturalists, or if things will stay status quo?
  • Scenarios on how it might impact regional land values, land use, and agriculture.
  • How on-the-ground strategies can deter illegal grows.
  • Funding available to restore habitats impacted by grows, and how to obtain it


Our panelists are:

  • Bill Keene, Moderator, Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District
  • Hezekiah AllenCalifornia Growers Association
  • Leslie Lew, Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District
  • Mark Fenstermaker or Alfredo ArredondoConservation Strategy Group


The Gathering will be held at the David Brower Center in downtown Berkeley. Doors open at 9:30am. The program starts at 10am and there will be ample time for Q&A with the audience. Lunch will be served from 12-1pm. We’ll be using #OSCCannabis to talk about the event on social.

Register now


Open Space Conference


Since 1999 the Open Space Council has convened an annual conference in the spring. Each is unique with a new theme and a diverse set of speakers.

The Open Space Conference is the place to lift our heads up from the day-to-day and look at the big picture, with with colleagues from around the Bay Area. It is where we can discover potential partners, and reconnect with our collaborators, who share our goals and values.  Attendees include funders, donors, policy makers, Executive Directors, General Managers, communications leaders, land managers, park builders, and more – a who’s who in parks, resources management, and land conservation.

Together, we will discover new ways to adapt to changing populations, climates, and funding realities; it is the place to be inspired, to learn, and to grow.

Learn more and join us.

Past Gatherings


Four times a year the Open Space Council convenes a Gathering about a topic relevant to land conservation in the Bay Area. 120-130 people attend from around the region to hear speakers, get information, and talk with colleagues. Ideas are shared, partnerships are born, and the community gets stronger.

Topics have included:

  • Status of California State Parks
  • Lessons learned from conservation ballot measures
  • Affordable housing and parks
  • Interactive web-based maps and mobile apps
  • Grazing and conservation
  • Water districts and conservation


Speakers have included:

  • Rue Mapp, Outdoor Afro
  • Peter Birch, Google Maps
  • Mary Ruckelshaus, Natural Capital Institute
  • Sergio Jimenez, San Jose Parks and Recreation Commission


See the topics, speakers, presentations, and photos from the past 6 years of Gatherings.

From the blog