Best Management Practices Guidelines for Open Space Lands

Best Management Practices Guidelines for Open Space Lands

ZonesBest Management Practices Guidelines for Open Space Lands of the City of San Luis Obispo3.2 Recreational Landscape zonesZonesOne of the primary reasons for acquiring open space is to provide recreational opportunitiesto the City’s residents. However, it is desirable that there is little or no conflict betweenprovision of recreational opportunities on City open space lands and the preservation ofnatural and biological resources. Therefore, the priority for management activities in areasdesignated as ‘recreational landscapes’ will be to use the land for passive recreationalactivities as defined in the Open Space Element (OS 1.1.4). Such activities may includewalking, hiking, photography, nature watching etc. Generally, such activities should havenegligible impact on the natural environment.Management for approved, low impact, recreational activities may be active, such as trailbuilding and maintenance, or may involve leaving an area in a natural state of succession(e.g. as grassland or woodland), requiring minimal maintenance.Under certain circumstances (e.g. if the Parks andRecreation Director/Natural Resources Managerdeems that a specific area is capable of sustainingincreased levels of user pressure), active recreationalactivities that do impact the natural environment (suchas mountain biking, or equestrian activities), may bepermissible in designated areas. Direction will besought from interested parties on the most suitableareas to allow these activities, and on the constructionand design of suitable trails.This designation will also be applied in areas wheremore intensive management of the vegetation maybe necessary or required. Examples of this arevegetation under power lines and at the wildlandurbaninterface, where pruning or other vegetationmanagement techniques may need to be employedin a regular or intensive manner.Tree plantings in a restorative zon e3.3 Restorative zonesThe City of San Luis Obispo has long been committed to improving the habitat value of theland under its stewardship. For example, many projects have been implemented in the pastto improve the quality of riparian and instream habitat along San Luis Obispo Creek. Theseefforts will continue. Conservation-related activities involving the selective restoration andenhancement of plant and animal habitats, will be pursued in an effort to restore damagedor impacted open space resources where deemed beneficial. When possible, City staff willactively pursue funds from State and Federal sources to implement restorative improvements.Categorizing an area as ‘restorative’ implies that this is a temporary classification. Thelong-term goal of management will be to eventually re-designate the area to a permanentclassification at a future date.66

ZonesBest Management Practices Guidelines for Open Space Lands of the City of San Luis Obispo3.4 Cultural/Historical zonesZonesLand may be acquired by the City on which sites of cultural or historical significance arepresent. Such areas will be managed to preserve and/or enhance the resource, and whereappropriate preservation and/or restorative measures will be implemented in accordancewith policies adopted in the Open Space Element (OS 8.1.1). If necessary, guidance fromrecognized archeologists and historical preservation experts will be sought in the developmentof management programs for such sites. Whenever possible, such sites will be open to thepublic and developed to educate visitors on the heritage value of the resource.Rodriguez Adobe - Orcutt Rd,SLO3.5 Agricultural ZonesLand may be acquired that is in active cultivation and the intent of the City is to maintainthe site in active farming. Such sites will likely include barns, residences and other buildings;equipment may also be stored and used on the land. Areas in this category will be managedprimarily for productive agriculture or grazing. Conflicting activities, such as recreationmay be restricted on such properties. Agricultural lands that are leased back to farmers(as per OS 10.2.11) will be managed in accordance with the practices prescribed in theBMP which has been prepared for the property by City staff.77

ZonesBest Management Practices Guidelines for Open Space Lands of the City of San Luis Obispo4. General Policy AreasGeneral PolicyAreasPolicy is required in the following areas for each open space category described in Section2 of this document. The applicability of specific policies, and the method of implementation,will differ depending upon the prescribed zoning of the specific area. Details of howpolicies are to be implemented in each zone are provided in tabular form in Appendix 1.4.1 Land ManagementObjectives:Policy Areas:To conserve, enhance, and restore natural plant communities; to protect sensitiveand endangered plant species and their habitats; and to maintain biodiversity ofnative plants and animals.Vegetation ManagementWithin fiscal constraints, the City will manage vegetation to meet prescribed goalsfor the land. Management strategies such as the use of selective livestock grazing;physical pruning/removal of unwanted or problematic vegetation; erosion andsediment control; appropriate pesticide application; and prescribed burning of nativevegetative communities, will be implemented where necessary.Restoration and/or re-vegetation techniques will be utilized when necessary torestore a degraded vegetative community to its natural state. All restoration activitieswill utilize site or region specific native grasses, herbs, shrubs and trees; prohibitingthe planting of invasive, non-native species. Adjacent landowners will also beencouraged to undertake efforts to control target non-native vegetation on theirland.Alternatively, where deemed appropriate, vegetation may be left to follow its naturalcourse of succession and will not receive any form of active management.Fire ManagementThe status of vegetative communities in selected areas will be monitored, particularlygrassland areas, to determine if brush, weeds or other heavy fuel materials areencroaching. If the fire hazard is increased because of fuel loading, an evaluationwill be carried out to determine the most desirable and effective means to correctthe problem. Corrective measures, biological or physical, will be tailored to eacharea, taking local variables into consideration.8

Best Management Practices Guidelines for Open Space Lands of the City of San Luis ObispoCorrective measures may include, but are not limited to: thinning or removal ofeucalyptus, pine and cypress plantations, and shrubs or woodland occurring alongthe open space/urban interface to produce a less fire prone condition. Prescribedburning of areas will also be used to reduce fuel loads, when recommended by theNatural Resources Manager and mandated by the City Fire Department.General PolicyAreasDuring periods of extreme fire hazard the City reserves the right to close certain openspace areas to the public (per San Luis Obispo Municipal Code, Chapter 12.22.050C).In the interest of public safety, open fires (including barbecues) are prohibited yearround(per San Luis Obispo Municipal Code, Chapter 12.22.050M).Pest ManagementAgricultural sites and cultivated areas will be managed in accordance with appropriateagricultural and landscaping practices and Integrated Pest Management (IPM) methodsto control pest infestations.Appropriate herbicides will be used to control noxious weeds and invasive, nonnativeshrubs. These undesirable plants will eventually be replaced with appropriatenative species. The use of low toxicity, highly specific insecticides (e.g. Bacillusthuringiensis), will be permitted on a localized scale to protect resources on Cityopen spaces. Highly toxic, broad-spectrum insecticides (e.g. organophosphates)will only be used in the case of a devastating pest outbreak when a wide variety ofthe City’s natural resources are at significant risk.Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) will be obtained from the manufacturer fortoxicological information and personal safety protection requirements. All on-sitepesticide handling will be done away from streams, ponds, and drainage areas.Records will be maintained for all pesticide uses as directed by state and federalregulations. Handling, disposal, and clean up of pesticides shall comply with theproduct label, and state and federal regulations.TrailsThe City is committed to the creation of an integrated trail system that connects Cityopen space to other public or private lands (OS 12.1.2).In the interest of public safety and resource protection, travel in open space lands isrestricted to designated trails, and off-trail travel is discouraged. Construction ofnew trails is prohibited, except where authorized by the Parks and Recreation Directorand Natural Resources Manager as part of an approved trail improvement program.Trails will be constructed and marked as such to facilitate recreational uses; they willbe located to minimize impact to sensitive natural features on a site. Use of trailsmay be limited to foot traffic only in some areas.Signage on open spaces will be limited due to aesthetic concerns. Interpretive featuresfor educational purposes will be allowed. In accordance with Open Space Elementsections relating to public education, interpretive booths and signage will be constructedon City open spaces where appropriate. Signage will be standardized with regardsto size and style, to maintain consistency throughout the City’s open space system.9

Best Management Practices Guidelines for Open Space Lands of the City of San Luis ObispoMitigation ProjectsOn occasion, the City may be required to restore or enhance wildlife habitats tocompensate for losses resulting from engineering and utilities projects. Degradedareas on City open spaces may be used for mitigation purposes. Under suchcircumstances a mitigation and monitoring plan will be prepared that meets therequirements of the relevant state or federal regulating agency.General PolicyAreasCity policies require that use of City properties for private mitigation must provide abenefit to the overall community and that such projects be approved by the Parkand Recreation Commission and by the City Council.Scientific StudyNon-destructive scientific study and research will be permitted on City open spacesonly with the prior evaluation and approval of the Natural Resources Manager.4.2 Human Activities and ImpactsObjectives:Provide the public with a safe and pleasing environmentin which to pursue passive recreational activities, whilemaintaining the integrity of the resource and minimizingthe impact on the wildlife and habitats represented.Policy Areas:GeneralHikers at R eservoir C anyonThe system of open space lands that has been developed within and around theCity is considered an important part of the community’s setting and character,providing a number of opportunities for enjoyment of the natural environment by ourcitizens. Consistent with the Open Space Element of the City’s General Plan, openspace lands have been acquired for the specific purposes of protection of sceniccharacter, wildlife habitat values, passive recreation and agriculture.The Open Space Element states that uses of open space lands owned or managedby the City should: “preserve the natural amenities of the open space land” and“may not include uses which would degrade or significantly impact resourcepreservation on-site or on an adjacent parcel” (per San Luis Obispo Municipal Code,Chapter 12.22.020).10

Best Management Practices Guidelines for Open Space Lands of the City of San Luis ObispoConsistent with this direction, City open spaces will be primarily managed to provideopportunities for passive recreation (OS 1.1.4).General PolicyAreasPassive recreation is defined as:“low-intensity recreational activities such as hiking, bird-watching, naturephotography, trails, individual picnic areas, nature study, viewing stations,interpretive areas, and similar uses” (OS Def-5)and will only be permitted where there is no significant environmental or land usecompatibility conflicts. All other forms of recreation, such as mountain biking andequestrian activities, are considered active recreation and will be subject torestrictions.Some low-level active recreation will be permitted on designated trails but this willbe site and location specific.The City has adopted regulations that restrict or prohibit activities deemedinconsistent with the goals for City open space as described in the Open SpaceElement. Activities which may be so restricted or prohibited include: camping;horseback riding; bicycling; fishing; animal trapping; boating; walking of pets;consumption of alcohol; sound amplification; solicitation; possession of weapons;rock climbing; parasailing; operation of motor vehicles and plant collection (SanLuis Obispo Municipal Code, Chapter 12.22.050). The reader is referred to theMunicipal Code for specifics. All management decisions relating to permitted activitieson City owned or managed open space will be consistent with these regulations.In general, active recreation will be prohibited within creek corridors (except MissionPlaza and Mission Plaza expansion areas), wetlands (except portions of LagunaLake and the wetland area within Meadow Park), sensitive wildlife habitats, andareas where proposed recreation would significantly mar the scenic quality of thesite. Similarly, no overnight camping is allowed in any City-owned creek corridor oropen space. Residence in such areas after dusk is prohibited (OS 12.22.050B),and as facilities to accommodate overnight use are not provided in City open spacessuch use can pose a significant threat to public health and safety.AccessOpen Space Lands, where public access is permitted, shall be open to the publicfrom dawn to dusk. It shall be unlawful to enter or remain within such lands betweenone hour after sunset and one hour before sunrise of the following day withoutapproval from the Parks and Recreation Director.Temporary closure of a City open space may be necessary if the prevalent conditionspose a threat to the public safety as determined by the City’s Parks and RecreationDirector, Fire Chief or Police Chief. Such threats may include fires, landslides,flooding etc.1111

Best Management Practices Guidelines for Open Space Lands of the City of San Luis ObispoAny section or part, of the City’s Open Space Lands may be declared closed to thepublic, at any time, and for any interval of time, either temporarily or at regular andstated intervals (daily or otherwise), and either entirely or merely to certain uses, asdeemed reasonably necessary (per San Luis Obispo Municipal Code, Chapter12.22.050B/C).General PolicyAreas4.3 Aquatic Systems ManagementObjectives:Policy Areas:To restore and preserve creeks and wetlands in anatural state, and provide suitable habitat to all nativeaquatic and riparian species. To minimize theimpacts of harmful activities, such as the release ofpollutants, while maintaining the creek system asan efficient means of conveying storm water.GeneralPoolhabita t on SLO creek is criticalfo r th edevelopm ent of juvenile SouthernSteelhead TroutCooperative efforts will be taken to plan comprehensive watershed management,and adopt “Best Management Practicesfor land use activities to minimize potentialstorm water pollution (integrated with the National Pollutant Discharge EliminationSystem [NPDES]). This may include practices such as the erection of fencing toexclude livestock from watercourses and the stabilization of eroding creek banks.Riparian vegetation will be managed to preserve and enhance the wildlife habitatvalue of these important resources while minimizing the danger to life and propertyfrom flooding. New plantings within creek corridors or in setback areas will berestricted to trees, shrubs and groundcover native to the local area and normallyfound within creek corridors.The City will endeavor to initiate no actions on City open space lands that couldresult in a net decrease in wetlands. When wetland loss is unavoidable, a mitigationstrategy will be adopted which has been approved by the appropriate state or federalregulatory agency. Waterways and wetlands will be managed to enhance andpreserve native fish and amphibian populations and their habitats. Public accesswill be controlled in riparian and wetland areas, when necessary, to protect naturalresources.Aquatic habitat improvements will be implemented as opportunities for restorationarise. All restoration work intended to improve in-stream habitat for southernsteelhead will be in a manner consistent with pertinent guidelines published in theCalifornia Department of Fish and Game Salmon Stream Habitat Restoration Manual(CDFG, 1988).Where appropriate, efforts will be made to increase the public’s knowledge andappreciation of the City’s aquatic resources by provision of interpretative serviceson City-owned or managed property.12 12

Best Management Practices Guidelines for Open Space Lands of the City of San Luis Obispo4.4 AgricultureObjectives:General PolicyAreasPolicy Areas:The City is committed to the permanent conservation of farmlands to protect theagricultural economy of the County and the State (OS 10.1.1); and it is committed toconserve and maintain adequate natural resources (such as ground water) forproductive agriculture (OS 10.1.5).In general, agricultural lands on City open space will be maintained for agriculturaluses. Publicly owned agricultural lands will be leased back to farmers, or utilized asdemonstration projects that will benefit local farmers (OS 10.2.11). All agriculturaloperations on City owned lands must adhere to the policies and regulations outlinedin the Best Management Practices document prepared for that site.Agricultural practices on City owned open space may be restricted if continuation ofthose practices conflicts with higher priority issues. An example of such a conflict isthe use of limited groundwater supplies for irrigation purposes on City owned openspace that may be required for general consumptive use by the local populace.Under such circumstances the City will make every effort to provide an alternativesource of water to support agricultural practices. Alternative sources may be in theform of recycled water from the City’s proposed wastewater re-use system.4.5 Wildlife ManagementObjectives:To conserve and protect native animal species andenhance their habitats to maintain viable wildlifepopulations within balanced ecosystems.Policy Areas:M any of th e C ity 's O pen S pace Lands havevery high w ild life habita t valueHabitatTo the extent feasible, the City will protect and conserve local native habitat (suchas grasslands), and the native wildlife that is dependent on this habitat. The Citywill cooperate on a regular basis with other public and private land managers, andrecognized wildlife management experts, to address wildlife management issues ona regional scale.Within fiscal constraints, recognized restoration techniques will be used wherenecessary to restore a degraded habitat to a natural state. Only native plants willbe utilized in restoration programs, and the planting of invasive, non-native plantswithin resource areas or associated habitat buffers will be prohibited. 1313

Best Management Practices Guidelines for Open Space Lands of the City of San Luis ObispoThe creation of habitat islands (habitat surrounded by developed areas) will beavoided and necessary wildlife corridors (including corridors under proposed majorroads, highways, or other impediments which restrict animal movement) will beprovided whenever possible.General PolicyAreasThe City will strive to protect stream corridors through land purchases and/oreasements, to preserve riparian corridors and in-stream habitat.BirdsThe habitat of native raptors (hawks, eagles, and owls) will be protected andenhanced, when appropriate for a site. In greenway and parklands, nesting androosting trees, will be preserved wherever possible. Tree removal or pruning will beperformed only when nesting and brood rearing is completed. Eagle nest trees areprotected by Federal laws.The removal of any structure that acts as a perching site for birds of prey will bereplaced with a suitable alternative structure whenever feasible and appropriate.The habitat of native songbirds will be protected and enhanced whenever feasibleand appropriate.Exotics and PestsControl programs may be implemented for exotic wildlife species, such as bull frogs,that are negatively impacting native species.Mosquitoes may be controlled in the case of serious human or domestic animalhealth threat due to disease outbreak (e.g., encephalitis).The City will request the aid of the California Department of Fish and Game orCounty Office of Animal Control to remove any animal that poses a threat to publicsafety on open space lands.Species of Special ConcernConservation of rare, threatened, and endangered species of plants and animalsand their supporting habitats will take precedence over other management decisions,if the City determines that other uses and activities would have a significant adverseeffect on these natural resources.Management activities in open space zones designated as ‘habitat’ will promote,enhance, and protect habitat used by endangered species, threatened species,and species of local concern. In restorative zones, management activities willpromote, enhance, and protect habitat that has the potential to support these species.Native species of special concern (according to listings by the California NativePlant Society and the California Department of Fish and Game) may be reintroducedinto suitable habitat on City open space if targeted by special project or grant.1414

Best Management Practices Guidelines for Open Space Lands of the City of San Luis Obispo5. Best Management Practices Plan ElementsA Best Management Practices Plan is an ongoing land management program, activityundertaken to prevent adverse impacts of approved land use activities on natural andcultural resources of importance to the City of San Luis Obispo. The overall purpose of theplan is threefold i.e. 1) provide an account of the prevailing condition of a property; 2) setout future goals for the property; and; 3) prescribe a means of achieving those goals.BMPs PlanElementsEach plan will consist of the following elements.5.1 Executive SummaryThis will include a concise summary of the plan’s significant findings relative to recreation,wildlife habitat, agricultural, cultural and open space needs on the property, and the actionsit proposes. It should also include a discussion of the planning and public participationprocesses used to prepare the BMP as well as its origin and purpose.5.2 InventoryThe inventory will be a catalog of the biological, natural, cultural and recreational resourcesrepresented on a property. Establishing a detailed resource inventory for a property islikely to be a long-term, ongoing process. BMP’s should be updated as new resourceinformation is made available; however the initial BMP should be formulated using theinformation available at the time of preparation.5.3 Goals and PoliciesClearly defined goals for the long and short-term management of recreational, restorative,agricultural, cultural and habitat resources on the property will be set out. The adoptedpolicies that will be implemented to achieve these goals will also be identified. When aproperty is zoned as proposed in Section 2, individual sets of goals and policies will beestablished for each zone.5.4 Needs AnalysisThe BMP will include an evaluation of the adequacy of the current recreational, restorative,cultural, agricultural and wildlife habitat management systems, to satisfy present and projectedpublic demands and desires for open space, as established through the planning process.The needs analysis will address such topics as:• A description of current recreation activity levels, participation patterns, and trendslikely to affect activity levels in the future.• A description of the current wildlife habitat value of an open space, or zoneswithin an open space; is the quality of this likely to change in the foreseeablefuture, if so, how?1515

Best Management Practices Guidelines for Open Space Lands of the City of San Luis Obispo• A description of any restorative work that is suggested for the entire property orzone within the property.BMPs PlanElements• A description of current agricultural practices occurring on the property; how arethese practices likely to change in the foreseeable future?• A description of cultural/historic resources occurring on the property; andrecommendations on how these resources can be preserved and/or restored inthe future.5.5 Zoning PlanThe zoning plan will show the location and configuration of all existing recreation landscape,restorative, habitat, cultural/historic and agricultural zones, together with justification andobjectives for each designation.5.6 Action PlanAn action plan provides direction for the orderly and coordinated execution of the BMP.Actions should relate logically to the needs identified and should be based upon the adoptedpolicies detailed in Appendix 1 of this document. The Action Plan represents the City’sdecisions for addressing BMP’s needs and goals based on the desires of the communityand the City’s fiscal constraints. The Action Plan should encompass specified time-periodsand should be updated every 5 years to report on progress, make adjustments, and includeany proposals for new actions.The following points will be addressed when formulating the action plan:• Time Frame – In this section the goals set out in Section 4.3 will be prioritizedand a time-line established to defined when these goals should be met.• Physical Improvements - This section will include plans for any physicalstructures; such as informational booths, road improvements, trails etc, that arerecommended for the site. When appropriate, detailed plans and engineersdrawings describing the structure should be included in this section.• Cost Analysis – This section will contain the projected costs of implementationof the action plan, over a specified time-period, and the sources of requiredfunds identified. Any foreseen costs that fall outside the approved normaloperational budgets for the City’s open space will be acknowledged, andpossible sources of external funding identified.• Staffing resources – This section will outline the manpower necessary toimplement the action plan. It is anticipated that staff from the NaturalResources Program and Parks and Recreation Department will play a majorrole in the day-to-day management of the open space system. Additionalassistance from other City departments and groups such as the CaliforniaConservation Corps and local non-profits, will be solicited as necessary.1616

Best Management Practices Guidelines for Open Space Lands of the City of San Luis ObispoAs the BMP is not a static document, it can be amended at the discretion of the City withinput from the community. The Action Plan should provide details on the location, relativepriority, and anticipated cost of all proposed land protection, restoration, and recreationfacility development projects.BMPs PlanElements5.7 Fiscal Impact of Council Adoption of BMP’sAdoption of this document as a policy guide for City-owned open space lands will not ofitself involve any expenditures not currently anticipated by the City Council or by staff.However, there are certain implications from the document that need elaboration.Adoption of these guidelines implies a greater level of inventory and planning for Cityownedopen space lands than has heretofore been the case. Therefore it can be assumedthat a greater level of resource management activities (such as vegetation manipulation,prescribed burning, in-stream habitat enhancements, restoration of degraded areas, anddevelopment of trailheads and trail systems) will be the natural result of this planning effortas it applies to each open space area.Anticipated costs of such activities cannot be estimated at this time: however, the range ofsuch costs can be expected to be fairly wide. For example, new or modified activities at theCerro San Luis Natural Reserve would be expected to be minor. This is because the sitehas long been open to the public and has well-established use patterns which are not likelyto change. Furthermore, there are no major resource management issues requiring correctivemeasures. On the other hand a site such as the Irish Hills Natural Reserve does not haveestablished use patterns, and it also has several significant resource issues that will requiremanagement activities to address; therefore there may be some fairly significant cost issuesassociated with that site. It should be pointed out however, that extending improvementsover time, utilizing grant programs, and making use of volunteer interest is expected to go along way toward assisting in the activities envisioned for these sites.Ranger Service staffing is anticipated to continue to grow as the system grows, but most ofthe envisioned projects (trail construction, environmental restoration) are one-time or capitalimprovementin nature and it is not expected that the growth of the City’s open spacesystem will result in unusually large or problematic increases in funding needs.17

Best Management Practices Guidelines for Open Space Lands of the City of San Luis ObispoAppendix 16. Appendix 1Please click here18 19

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