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City & Local Partners Committed to the Future of Foothills Park

Learn how Foothills Park will continue to be a place for everyone to enjoy, explore and learn

City of Palo Alto staff and the Parks and Recreation Commission have partnered with several organizations and individuals to ensure a thoughtful and safe opening of Foothills Park to everyone. The City and its partners recognize the importance of protecting the natural environment of Foothills Park, while ensuring a positive and welcoming visitor experience for all that is built on environmental education and stewardship. There are numerous opportunities to be involved to ensure that Foothills Park is a place for everyone to enjoy! Read this latest blog to learn more about these local partnerships and ways you can play a role in Foothills Park.

There are several highly reputable organizations and individuals eager to partner with the City to ensure that the plants and animals of Foothills Park are protected while allowing people to explore and learn about the natural environment. Access to open spaces like Foothills Park has physical, emotional and mental benefits and we are excited to be able to share this space with new visitors.

Have questions about the City Council’s recent actions to open Foothills Park to the general public? Go here for a blog answering community questions about this topic.

View a video that summarizes what’s next here:


Grassroots Ecology

In addition to maintaining a native plant nursery at Foothills Park, Grassroots Ecology manages habitat restoration projects throughout Silicon Valley and provides environmental stewardship and education opportunities for youth and adults. In Foothills Park, they play a pivotal role in restoring native plant habitats, monitoring the presence of invasive plant species, and provide numerous opportunities for environmental education from after-school programs to college internships. Grassroots Ecology will expand their monitoring protocols to ensure highly visited areas of the park are not suffering from degradation with increased visitation. This work has already begun through monitoring of the first 200 feet of trails to establish a baseline on the presence of invasive weeds. They will also offer a virtual naturalist talk in both English and Spanish on Foothills Park in January, which will be a great way for people to learn more about the natural environment in Foothills Park.

Environmental Volunteers

The mission of Environmental Volunteers is, “to promote the understanding of and responsibility for the environment through hands-on science education.” Through this environmental science education, children and adults become inspired by the natural world and responsible stewards of the environment. Environmental Volunteers Program Director Toby Goldberg sees the opening of Foothills Park to the general public as an opportunity to teach the next generation to be responsible stewards. “Giving children the access to explore natural places like Foothills Park cements a bond to the earth that will continue through adulthood”, says Goldberg. Environmental Volunteers is committed to providing opportunities and field trips for environmental education and stewardship at Foothills. They are looking at testing a mobile nature cart to teach park visitors about the plants and animals in Foothills Park while being outside and socially distanced. They will also look to host regular virtual nature programs on interesting features of Foothill ecology (until they can be hosted in person of course!) and create an online guide for people to learn how preservation and recreation come together at Foothills.

Friends of Foothills Park

Friends of Foothills Park are a small but mighty volunteer group dedicated to the preservation of the park’s natural resources and conservation of its natural features and scenic values. The mission of the Friends includes these words as part of their purpose: “To protect and maintain the ecology of this area; To provide for the use and enjoyment of the resources found here, consistent with their preservation; And to provide opportunities for the interpretation of its natural history.” The Friends meet every Sunday morning at Orchard Glen Picnic Area to discuss restoration plans. New visitors are welcome to come and learn, participate, and join!

Social Ecology Lab, Graduate School of Education & Woods Institute for the Environment, Stanford University

Professor Nicole Ardoin, Director of the Social Ecology Lab at Stanford, is a faculty member in the Graduate School of Education, a senior fellow in the Woods Institute for the Environment, and the faculty director of the Emmett Interdisciplinary Program in Environment and Resources (E-IPER). Dr. Ardoin and her students work with community partners to conduct research in parks and protected areas, and study topics including the connection to nature, nature-rich experiences, and sense of place. In collaboration with Stanford’s Haas Center for Public Service, students in Dr. Ardoin’s courses and lab have partnered with groups such as Grassroots Ecology to interview and survey volunteers and visitors at local open space preserves. As Dr. Ardoin said at the July panel discussion on Foothills Park, hosted by the Parks and Recreation Commission, access to and participation in open spaces can build a lifelong commitment to stewardship, benefitting not only the current generation, but also future generations of park users who will continue to protect open spaces. Dr. Ardoin and colleagues are helping facilitate additional teaching and research connections at Stanford that contribute to a balanced approach to conservation, education, and recreation at Foothills.

City of Palo Alto Parks and Recreation Commission & City Staff Team

In addition to these dedicated community partners, City of Palo Alto Open Space staff and the Parks and Recreation Commission are working together to ensure that we have appropriate resources in place prior to opening. These include installing a real time vehicle counter so Park Rangers can more accurately track park visitation numbers, installing clear signage that identifies no parking areas, and increasing waste collection services and restroom cleanings. Park Rangers are also skilled at nature interpretation and will help educate the public on the flora and fauna at Foothills Park and how they can protect the natural environment. Park Rangers at Foothills will work closely with Grassroots Ecology to ensure that native plants are not threatened by invasive weeds.


We are confident that by working together, Foothills Park will continue to be a place for everyone to enjoy, explore and learn. We look forward to expanding the Foothills Park community and welcoming new visitors!

If you or your family are interested in volunteering, email the City at


For Frequently Asked Questions about Foothills Park, go here.

For an opinion article on Foothills Park written by Palo Alto Vice Mayor and Former Mayor, go here.

For a recent blog post on the Council’s actions on this issue, go here.

For the City’s website on Palo Alto open space preserves and parks, go here.

To learn about the Parks and Recreation Commission, go here.

For a panel discussion hosted by the Parks and Recreation Commission about Foothills Park access, go here.

To follow the City on social media, to here and to sign up for the City’s newsletters, go here.




Official communications from the City of Palo Alto. Connect and join the conversation on issues of interest to our community.

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