The Open Space Council Blog


Next Steps for Cannabis and Conservation

October 3, 2017


The Bay Area Open Space Council hosted our Autumn Gathering on a growing topic of conversation amongst regional land managers and staff: the forecasted impacts of legalized recreational cannabis cultivation (Prop 64) on Bay Area public and private lands. For some time, we’d been listening to stories from conservationists around the region about the environmental impacts of trespass grows. Irrigation lines found in heavily-forested areas in Napa. Thousands of cannabis plants discovered on illegal grow sites within open space in Santa Clara County. Impacts to plants, animals, and their habitats in the Santa Cruz Mountains, Alameda County, and other counties within the region. And with the passage of Prop 64 on November 8, 2016, the volume on these issues got turned up, raising speculation around what legalized recreational cannabis could portend for Bay Area conservation and agriculture.

On September 28, 2017, we brought together speakers with expertise in land management, stewardship, cannabis advocacy, and legislation to discuss cannabis legalization and how opportunities to grow above board could allow for better stewardship. Each offered a unique and well-informed perspective on what the “green rush” could hold for Bay Area land values and economics, if the number of trespass grows on public and private lands would change in response to a regulated marketplace, and practices that have been successful in managing them.

The following panelists offered their experience and insight on the topics below. Check out their presentations to see what they shared:


Trespass Cannabis Cultivation on Fee Lands – Leslie Lew


Proposition 64 Revenue: Environmental Restoration and Protection Account – Mark Fenstermaker

Here’s a glimpse into what the day looked like. For more photos, check out our Flickr album:

…and what attendees were saying about #OSCCannabis on Twitter & Facebook: