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 the champion for nature and wildlife in San Mateo and Santa Clara 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. We conduct thorough research, seek community input, and make our views known.

Educating decision makers and community leaders

We provide our region’s leaders the support and information they need to be conservation champions.

Partnering with and mobilizing community members

We mobilize people for environmental action. We train, mentor, and learn from diverse leaders and communities to achieve equitable, inclusive results.


We believe that how we work is important. Our core values embody our culture and help drive our decisions.


We advocate based on knowledge and experience


We pursue our vision courageously and resolutely


We accomplish our mission with ethical and thoughtful action


We are inclusive and collaborative

Why is Green Foothills Needed?

We believe in a future when our natural world is no longer under attack. However, there is a long-standing problem of too many incentives to make land use decisions that harm the environment, accelerate climate change, destroy wildlife, and hurt vulnerable communities. This needs to change.

Green Foothills is the champion for the open space, farmland, and natural resources in San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties. Through our Advocacy Program, we protect threatened wildlife habitat, increase the use of nature-based solutions to sea level rise and flooding, plan for coastal erosion, safeguard environmental policies, and protect natural and working landscapes that provide valuable ecosystem services as part of climate defense. Through our Leadership Program we grow a larger, more diverse base of civic leaders to work toward protecting the environment.

People are connected to nature. It is the air we breathe, the water we drink, and protection from flooding and erosion. It is a source of our physical and mental well-being. It is adaptation to climate change. If we protect the planet’s land, biodiversity, and ecosystem health, it will lay the path for climate resilience. Through our work, this region will serve as a model for how a community and an economy can thrive as a result of land use decisions made in balance with and respect for nature.

Our Beginnings

Spin back the clock to the 1950s. Post-World War II planners, developers, and speculators have drawn up plans to transform the entire Bay Area into a Los Angeles-style mega metropolis that would have filled in much of the Bay and paved over most of our mountain ranges, hillsides, and coastal areas. Decision makers enthusiastically adopted these far-flung plans, and most people accepted them as inevitable. To accommodate this auto-centric sprawl, new freeways were planned to extend like spider webs across the landscape.

However, ordinary people who placed a higher value on protecting the environment spoke up loudly, clearly, and persistently. On the peninsula, a band of Palo Alto and Los Altos activists organized with the specific 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 preserve the foothills — thus Committee for Green Foothills began (renamed “Green Foothills” in 2020). Soon after its founding the organization expanded its reach, working to protect the open space, natural resources, and farmland in all of San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties. Green Foothills’ focus has always been to keep a vigilant eye on emerging and ongoing local land use issues involving open space. When a threat or opportunity arises, we address it nimbly and rapidly, and we engage community members to have a louder voice. Our expertise and reputation carries influence with decision-makers and, most importantly, we are effective, routinely delivering real environmental victories.

Our Founding Members

Myron Alexander, Dora Brown, R.E. Cameron, Dorothy Comstock, Kirke Comstock, George Cowie, James Cutter, Dave Davison, Laurence Dawson, Ruth Dawson, Eleanor Fowle, Jack Fowle, Betty Gerard, Gary Gerard, George Hogle, Lois Crozier-Hogle, Tom Horn, Martin Litton, Sy Mantel, Mary Moffat, George Pfeiffer, Karl Spangenberg, Ruth Spangenberg, Kathryn Stedman, Morgan Stedman, Wallace Stegner, and Michael Wills.

Green Foothills board at tenth anniversary. Smiling while protecting the environment.

An early Green Foothills photo (1972)

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