About Us

Our mission: To protect the open space, farmland, and natural resources of San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties for the benefit of all through advocacy, education, and grassroots action.

What We Do

Green Foothills is a champion for nature and wildlife in San Mateo, Santa Clara, and San Benito Counties. We are protecting the environment by:

Engaging in local land use issues

We review land-use policy, proposals, and planning processes that pose opportunities or threats to our natural environment.

Educating decision makers and community leaders

We provide our region’s leaders the support and information they need to make the right decisions for the environment.

Partnering with and mobilizing community members

We mobilize people for environmental action through training, mentoring, and learning from diverse leaders to achieve equitable, inclusive results.

Why is Green Foothills Needed?

Too often, land use decisions harm the environment, accelerate climate change, destroy wildlife, and hurt vulnerable communities. This needs to change.

Through our Advocacy Program, we protect threatened wildlife habitat, protect natural and agricultural landscapes, advance nature-based solutions to sea level rise, plan for coastal erosion, and safeguard environmental policies. Through our Leadership Program we grow a larger, more diverse base of civic leaders to work toward protecting the environment.

Through our work, our region will serve as a model for how communities and economies can thrive in balance with and respect for nature.

Our Beginnings

In the 1950s, planners, developers, and speculators wanted to transform the Bay Area into a mega metropolis. Plans would have filled in much of the Bay, paved over mountain ranges, and threatened coastal areas, to accommodate auto-centric sprawl.

While many people accepted these plans as inevitable, a small group of ordinary people who valued the environment spoke up loudly, clearly, and persistently. On the peninsula, a band of activists in the Stanford area came together with the purpose of keeping “factories out of the foothills.” This original battle was lost and the Stanford Industrial Park was built, raising concerns that all of the foothills would disappear if a more concerted effort was not made to save them.

In May of 1962, twenty-seven citizens from the original open space battle regrouped and organized to create “Committee for Green Foothills.” Soon after its founding, the organization expanded its mission to protect open space, natural resources, and farmland in all of San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties. In the 2020s, as pressure for sprawl development pushed southward, the organization expanded into San Benito County as well.

Renamed Green Foothills in 2020, our focus has always been to keep a vigilant eye on local land use issues involving open space. When a threat or opportunity arises, we address it nimbly and rapidly, engaging community members to amplify their voices. Our expertise and reputation carry influence with decision-makers and we routinely deliver meaningful environmental victories. Since our founding, we have helped permanently protect more than 200,000 acres.

Learn More

We hope you’ll explore this website. Read our blog, check out upcoming events,, see our vision for the future, read about current major campaigns and our Leadership Program, view financial information, learn about our staff and board, and more.

Connect with Green Foothills

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Support the protection of local open spaces by joining today

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