Decades of Park Advocacy: Behind San Francisco’s Presidio and Golden Gate National Parks

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What does it take to create nationally-recognized landscapes like the Presidio and the Golden Gate National Parks in San Francisco, CA? The answer is more than just one designer, planner, steward, or advocate–and a lot longer than a decade. On April 4th, the Cultural Landscape Foundation honored the “exceptional number of Bay Area stewards and designers” that have played pivotal roles in creating and shaping this landscape over many decades, including three key leadership organizations: The Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy, The Presidio Trust, and The National Park Service.

Here are some of the photographs of the Presidio and Golden Gate National Recreation Areas, documented by SWA Group’s Principal Photographer, Tom Fox:

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“The Golden Gate National Recreation Area, created in 1972, is an 80,000-acre gem with some of the nation’s most beautiful natural and designed landscapes. Bikers, hikers, joggers, birders, nature lovers and others are drawn daily to its miles of trails and paths and its parks and other amenities. This National Park is not only a place for San Franciscans to recreate and enjoy, it also provides an ideal setting for learning, helps establish a lifelong connection with nature and the environment, promotes civic engagement and a holistic stewardship ethic – all while fostering engagement with a broader national and international community. Maintaining this expansive cultural landscape, though, is complex, challenging and costly, particularly at a time when resources are lacking and years of deferred maintenance have hobbled many such places around the country.”

— The Cultural Landscape Foundation, “What’s Out There.”

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From The Cultural Landscape Foundation’s recent publication on the Golden Gate Recreation Area:

“The responsibility for making all of this nature look so natural – and publicly accessible – lies with the National Park Service (NPS) and The Presidio Trust (“the Trust”), working with the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy (the Parks Conservancy). Together, as forward-thinking park stewards, they have consistently sought to balance natural, scenic and cultural values, providing public access while carefully managing a vast, ecologically-diverse park system. Their pioneering efforts serve as an innovative model for park stewardship nationally and internationally, successfully securing funds, developing forward-thinking management policies and building and sustaining infrastructure.

These projects are an important catalyst for Bay Area businesses, particularly landscape architects, architects, engineers and construction teams who are commissioned to design and rehabilitate the parks, trails, facilities and many other amenities. It is because of this thoughtful management that The Cultural Landscape Foundation (TCLF) honored the Parks Conservancy, the Trust and NPS each with a Stewardship Excellence Award. The Award, created in 2001, is annually bestowed on a person, group or agency that shares TCLF’s mission of “stewardship through education,” with the goal of highlighting stewardship stories that will educate and inspire future generations of cultural landscape stewards.”

Download a copy of the full book, with a great map and list of sites to explore if you have a chance to visit.

(Photography by Tom Fox, SWA Group). 



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