Open Space Background

Who We Are

Shell Ridge nursery

Volunteers hard at work prepping one of our grass and plant restoration sites in Shell Ridge

The Foundation is a purely volunteer organization that performs habitat restoration projects in the open space and supports open space related activities sponsored by the City of Walnut Creek. Members support these projects through their membership dues and by contributing their time and skills.

WCOSF has a Board of Directors which acts as the governing body of the Foundation. It consists of no more than twenty one members, chosen from the general membership, to serve for two-year terms. Here is a list of current active and advisory board members.

Board meetings are open to all Foundation members and to the public. New projects are discussed and status updates are presented for ongoing projects. Meetings are held on the 3rd Wednesday of every month except for December when there is no regular board meeting. Board meetings are normally held in a conference room at Walnut Creek's City Hall. Meetings begin at 7:00pm.

Email us at if you wish to attend.


Open Space and Your Space

Informal report prepared for the residents of Walnut Creek during the 1974 campaign concerning the proposed Open Space program.

In 1974 the citizens of Walnut Creek voted to set aside approximately 2,500 acres of rolling, oak-dotted grassland as permanent open space for the enjoyment of all. These undeveloped ridgelands were purchased with the proceeds of a bond issue with the intent that they remain in a near-natural state in perpetuity. The voters also created a mechanism to protect and administer these open space lands, at first through a Contra Costa County Special District and later through a department of the City of Walnut Creek. An open space ranger was employed as the first steward of these impressive properties, the first "city ranger" in the nation.

In 1979 the Walnut Creek Open Space Foundation was incorporated as a nonprofit, tax-deductible organization to promote the enhancement and protection of the open space lands, and to inform the public of the educational and recreational opportunities to be found within the four recreation areas that had been established. The original incorporators were Audrey Bramhall, Gary Ginder, Robert Jasperson, Hardy Miller and Marlene White.

The Foundation has the capability of raising funds for a variety of purposes to benefit the open space, and has over the years acted as an informal advisory body to the City of Walnut Creek on such matters as the acquisition of critical additions to the existing natural areas.

As a part of its efforts to educate the public concerning the values of the Open Space, the Foundation sponsored its first annual Western Day at the Old Borges Ranch in 1981. The activities on that day, together with an excellent barbeque, served to acquaint hundreds of citizens with the amenities of the Shell Ridge Recreation Area and the historical values of the Old Borges Ranch.

3rd annual Western Day 1983

Program guide for the 3rd Annual Western Day in 1983.

The Western Day festivities were repeated for several years, with the unstinting and dedicated assistance of the open space ranger and his wife. At other times, different sorts of activities have been sponsored by the Foundation, including a "Treasure Walk" to inform the public about the ecology of our undeveloped lands, and educational walks conducted at the Sugarloaf Recreation Area.

Over the years the Foundation has administered contributions that helped create the Hanna Grove and the nearby Bob Pond wildlife area. And in 1981 the Foundation was instrumental in having the Old Borges Ranch included on the National Register of Historic Places. Later, the Foundation raised funds to assist the City in hiring an architect to draw plans for the restoration of the original turn-of-the-century ranch house. The restored building was dedicated as a visitors' center in 1990.

In 1991 the Foundation began its recent program of emphasis on restoring the Open Space, in addition to earlier areas of effort. The Oak Habitat Restoration Project began in 1991 and continues. The Quail Habitat Restoration Project began in 1995. Native Grass Restoration also began in 1995. It is a less formal effort carried on by a number of interested Foundation members. An invasive-plant-suppression effort began in 1997 with the purchase of a sickle bar mower. The principal targets of this abatement work are yellow star thistle and several other non-native thistle species as well as black mustard, all highly invasive and detrimental to the open space.

2nd annual Trail Day

Flyer for the 2nd Annual Trail Day in Shell Ridge Open Space.

Other activities of the Foundation have included hosting the Moonlight Hike for members, usually in August; assisting staff at Heritage Day and the Howe Homestead Harvest Festival; helping with the Sugarloaf Halloween Party and cooking lunch for Trail Day volunteers. For several years Foundation members have led spring wildflower hikes in the Shell Ridge and Lime Ridge Open Spaces.

Foundation members have actively supported protecting areas in and adjacent to Walnut Creek's Open Spaces. Examples are found in Concord's Crystyl Ranch development, the Newhall addition to Lime Ridge, proposals to build roads in adjacent open space, and creation of the botanical preserve in Lime Ridge.

The Foundation stands ready to oppose ill-considered proposals that would be detrimental to these priceless natural areas (such as an abortive attempt in the 1980s to construct a freeway through the Shell Ridge Open Space), and to offer alternatives to land-use policies that could cause rapid deterioration of our open space heritage. At the same time, our organization is committed to the encouragement of policies and projects that will enhance the Walnut Creek Open Space for the benefit of generations to come.
early WCOSF brochure

Brochure cover from early years of the Foundation.