Advocacy Program

Green Foothills’ environmental advocacy on over 900 land-use issues has resulted in nearly 200,000 acres of open space permanently protected since 1962, supporting biodiversity, climate resilience, and local farming.

Our advocacy team engages early in land use policy, proposals, and planning processes that pose an opportunity or threat to our natural environment. Sometimes this means supporting land-use plans that will protect nature and bring ecosystem benefits to our communities. At other times, it means opposing development proposals that will harm a wetland, adversely impact a marginalized community, or block a wildlife corridor.

We support current and future decision makers to be champions for conservation and inclusive public process, and we mobilize people to effect change for the land, the wildlife, and their communities.

Have a question for our Advocacy team? Email Alice Kaufman, Policy and Advocacy Director, at [email protected].

Take Action 

Want to take action to help protect open space and natural resources? We regularly let our supporters know about opportunities to contact decision-makers about local environmental issues. See below for our most recent Action Alerts. To receive Action Alerts in your inbox, sign up on the Subscribe page.

How We Choose Our Advocacy Issues 

Green Foothills considers many factors when choosing to engage in an environmental advocacy issue. They include, but are not limited to the areas and impacts listed below.  We take into account the particular facts and individual circumstances of each case before deciding whether to engage in an issue and what position to take.

Our mission is to protect open space, farmland, wildlife habitat, and natural resources, so we consider how much they may be affected. We may also consider other environmental impacts such as scenic vistas and air or water quality.

Good land-use planning determines the best way to meet our needs while safeguarding open space and natural resources. An example would be avoiding sprawl and encouraging transit-oriented infill development. We also take into account that these decisions affect quality-of-life issues, including public access to open space, preservation of historic and cultural resources, affordable housing and other social justice issues, public health and safety, food access, and transit.

Sometimes the outcome of an issue can potentially set a precedent for future environmental policy or decision making. The extent to which this may occur can be a deciding factor in our engagement in an issue.

What may be suitable for one location may not be suitable for another. For example, what may be appropriate in downtown San Jose may not be appropriate on the San Mateo County coast or along a natural creek corridor with sensitive wildlife habitat.

In choosing whether to allocate our limited resources to a given issue, Green Foothills must take into account our own ability to devote the time and energy needed to make a real difference, as well as the degree to which an issue aligns with our mission and advances our vision.

Green Foothills may choose to prioritize advocacy issues involving partnerships with organizations that serve marginalized communities and people of color, led by people from that community. Our approach may include centering the perspectives of BIPOC voices, advocating for a more inclusive public process, stepping back so that community members, tribes, or other historically marginalized groups may lead an advocacy effort, or providing support to community-based groups or coalitions in their advocacy efforts.

Community members holding a sign

Photo Credit: Maricela Lechuga

Thank You to Those Who Make Our Work Possible

Green Foothills appreciates every individual, agency, and foundation who makes our work possible and we are proud to recognize every contributor in Our Donor Community. Thanks to their generous support, we are able to champion land use decisions that affirm and support open space, biodiversity, climate resilience, and natural resources in San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties. To support our Advocacy Program and ensure local nature always has an advocate, we encourage you to contribute to the Lennie Roberts Advocacy Fund.

Andrea M.

Green Foothills’ Impact

“The historic votes to protect Coyote Valley by the San Jose City Council and Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors would not have happened without Green Foothills’ decades of advocacy.”

Andrea Mackenzie
Donor since 2012, General Manager of the Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority, Green Foothills 2021 Nature’s Inspiration Host Committee, resident of San Jose

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