History of the Parks Conservancy
A Timeline of Major Milestones Since 1981
Over its 30 years, the Parks Conservancy has established a reputation as a leading innovator among nonprofit conservation organizations.
- Parks Conservancy established, first called the Golden Gate National Parks Association.
- Began operation of interpretive sales areas at park visitor centers to raise funds for park projects and programs.
- Established first native plant nursery at Fort Funston—the first of six that grow plants for restoration projects parkwide.
- Launched Black Point Battery restoration, the first major project of its kind for the Conservancy.
- Established Golden Gate Raptor Observatory in cooperation with National Park Service; GGRO becomes a pioneering “citizen science” program that trains volunteers as hawk counters, banders, and trackers
- Began Parks Conservancy members program; attracted 5,000 members in first three years of operation.
- Announced plans for restoration of Crissy Field shoreline.
- Operated seven bookstores to serve visitors and provide quality interpretive merchandise for the benefit of the parks.
- Developed plan to improve visitor experience on Alcatraz Island, including Cellhouse Audio Tour.
- Established Habitat Restoration Team, one of the longest-running volunteer programs within the park.
- Opened visitor information and bookstore facility on Alcatraz.
- Sponsored the construction of a hiking route linking the Coastal and Bay Area Ridge Trails.
- Funded and built the Muir Woods Visitor Center.
- Published first Guide to the Parks.
- Began work with the National Park Service on conversion of Presidio from post to park.
- Established the Presidio Council.
- Converted Fort Barry Chapel into a visitor center for the Marin Headlands.
- Launched the Site Stewardship program, now called Park Stewardship.
- Supported restoration of historic barracks at Fort Cronkhite, and scientific research around nearby Rodeo Lagoon.
- Celebrated the Presidio’s transfer from military post to national park.
- Introduced the William Kent Society of the Parks Conservancy.
- Reconstructed bridge trail to Point Bonita Lighthouse.
- Unveiled park identity campaign, featuring the iconic Michael Schwab-designed logos, to visually unify disparate park sites.
- Installed more than 30 new park entrance signs.
- Launched Alcatraz Night Tours and produced We Hold the Rock video.
- Launched Campaign for Crissy Field; developed master plan for Crissy Field Center.
- Built Marin Headlands Native Plant Nursery.
- Completed Muir Woods boardwalk.
- Began operation of SEAT, the accessible tram on Alcatraz.
- Finished the Lobos Dunes restoration project, one of the first in the Presidio.
- Restored Crissy Field tidal marsh; launched “Help Grow Crissy Field” public campaign.
- Established Crissy Field Center’s first youth advisor council to plant seeds for future youth leadership programming.
- Provided support for spotted owl monitoring in Marin County.
- Debuted Junior Ranger program.
- Completed $34.5 million campaign for Crissy Field, celebrating its grand opening with 75,000 community members.
- Opened the doors to Crissy Field Center, and launched the Inspiring Young Emerging Leaders (I-YEL) program.
- Began serving the public at the Warming Hut.
- Dedicated Inspiration Point Overlook in the Presidio.
- Co-sponsored the transfer ceremony for Fort Baker.
- Debuted Crissy Field Center summer camps.
- Launched Trails Forever, an initiative of the Conservancy, National Park Service, and Presidio Trust to build a world-class trail system in the parks.
- Held first Trails Forever Dinner to benefit trail projects.
- Supported research of mission blue butterfly populations.
- Changed name from “Association” to “Conservancy.”
- Launched Alcatraz Gardens restoration project.
- Introduced Urban Trailblazers program for youth.
- Initiated planning and design work for Coastal Trail at Lands End.
- Began preparations for trail and habitat work at Mori Point.
- Launched Teens on Trails volunteer program.
- Designed system of wayfinding signage for California Coastal Trail corridor.
- Advanced plans for environmental institute at Fort Baker.
- Celebrated 25 years of support to the Golden Gate National Parks.
- Cut ribbon on new Lands End promenade and trails.
- Unveiled first “community trailhead” at Richmond District YMCA.
- Received historic $15 million gift from Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund to complete network of trails and overlooks in the Presidio and improve Rob Hill Campground.
- Launched Camping at the Presidio (CAP) program alongside National Park Service, Bay Area Wilderness Training, and National Park Service.
- Completed Batteries to Bluffs Trail in the Presidio.
- Warming Hut reopened after recovery from fire.
- Helped celebrated Muir Woods’ 100th anniversary.
- Celebrated the community-led revitalization of Mori Point.
- Held ceremony opening the “new” Fort Baker and Cavallo Point national park lodge, products of the the Conservancy’s partnership with the NPS and Fort Baker Retreat Group.
- Launched programs of the Institute at the Golden Gate, headquartered at Fort Baker.
- Unveiled new overlook, trailhead, and parking area at Merrie Way at Lands End.
- Opened Crissy Field Overlook.
- Institute at the Golden Gate held inaugural “Turning the Tide” environmental conference.
- Crissy Field Center moved to sustainably designed interim facility at East Beach, in response to Doyle Drive/Presidio Parkway work.
- Promoted parks as part of publicity around Ken Burns’ “The National Parks: America’s Best Idea” documentary on PBS.
- Commemorated 25th year of Golden Gate Raptor Observatory.
- Began restoration work along lower Redwood Creek at Muir Beach.
- Established Brian O’Neill Youth Leaders Fund in honor of the late General Superintendent of the parks.
- Opened new Dias Ridge Trail above Redwood Creek Watershed.
- Completed new Seed and Plant Lab at Presidio Native Plant Nursery.
- Finished renovation and expansion of Rob Hill Campground in the Presidio, the only facility of its kind in San Francisco.
- Supported national “America’s Great Outdoors” initiative to craft 21st century conservation strategy.
- Celebrated 10th anniversary of the completion of Crissy Field restoration, opening of Crissy Field Center.
- Debuted the first “Species of the Year” to be featured, the mission blue butterfly.
- Announced partnership with Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District to help celebrate Bridge’s 75th anniversary.
- Placed new elevated walkway at Muir Beach, marking the completion of major phase of restoration work.
- Supported transformation of El Polin Spring in the Presidio.
- Delivered a memorable Golden Gate Bridge 75th Anniversary community festival; opened new trails, overlooks, and a Bridge Pavilion welcome center as “birthday gifts” to the iconic span.
- Attained LEED Platinum status—the highest possible certification—for the Lands End Lookout and Crissy Field Center.
- Established the Park Youth Collaborative (PYC) alongside the NPS and Presidio Trust to elevate the quality of youth education programming parkwide.
- Welcomed the Oceana High School nursery in Pacifica as the sixth Native Plant Nursery in the park.
- Advanced a proposal for the Presidio Exchange, a park-themed cultural center, in response to the Trust’s call for concepts for the mid-Crissy Field site.
- Completed a dramatic multi-phase restoration project at Muir Beach and the lower Redwood Creek Watershed.
- Debuted the innovative Roving Ranger, a former bread truck repurposed as a mobile trailhead/visitor center.
- Partnered with SFMOMA to bring cutting-edge art and new visitors to the national parks, through Mark di Suvero at Crissy Field.
- Inspired, through the Institute's Food for the Parks program, a major initiative to bring healthier, more sustainable concessions to parks across the NPS.
- Marked the 20th Anniversary of the Park Stewardship Program.
- Formalized the Tamalpais Lands Collaborative alongside the NPS, California State Parks, Marin Municipal Water District, and Marin County Parks; subsequently launched the One Tam initiative to energize community support for Mt. Tam.
- Brought thought-provoking, world-class art to the parks with @Large: Ai Weiwei on Alcatraz, in partnership with FOR-SITE Foundation and the NPS.
- Hosted—alongside National Geographic, the NPS, and Presidio Trust—a successful BioBlitz, highlighting citizen science at Golden Gate.
- Worked with SF Department of Public Health to make San Francisco the first city in the world to incorporate "park prescriptions" into its public health system.
- Facilitated public engagement and community feedback on the New Presidio Parklands Project.
- Opened the stunning Fort Point Overlook and Eagle’s Point Overlook.
- Completed the Battery East Vista, viewing area overlooking Golden Gate Bridge and Fort Point.
- Launched Mt. Tamalpais version of LINC program, six-week summer leadership program for high schoolers.
- Advanced major restoration work at Alcatraz, including rehabilitation of the Quartermaster Warehouse.
- Built a key connector of the Presidio Coastal Trail, an ADA accessible pedestrian/bike bridge over historic batteries south of the Golden Gate Bridge.
- Celebrated 100 years of the National Park Service with Junior Ranger Jamboree at Crissy Field, Packing the Parks backpacking trip for 70 Bay Area youth, and more.
- In conjunction with the NPS Centennial, launched a multi-year partnership with the San Francisco Public Library.
- For library partnership, ran 10 free shuttles from libraries to national park sites, offered ranger talks and "community trailheads" at libraries, and erected "Little Free Libraries" in parks.
- Teamed with the FOR-SITE Foundation, the NPS and Presidio Trust on "Home Land Security" art installation at coastal defense sites in the Presidio, attracting 21,000 visitors.
- Advanced the Tunnel Tops project connecting the Presidio to Crissy Field by hosting design workshops and energizing community support.
- Opened the stunning William Penn Mott, Jr. Presidio Visitor Center in conjunction with the Presidio Trust and NPS.
- Opened more than 1,000 feet of accessible new trail at Hawk Hill in the Marin Headlands, finishing habitat restoration at a key site for the endangered Mission blue butterfly.
- Renovated the Crissy Field Promenade.
- Launched "Connection Lost: Families Unraveled by Prison" art exhibit at Alcatraz and "Portal" global interactive exhibit at Crissy Field.