A spider's web covered in dew hides amongst the grasses in the Willow Creek Preserve, a part of Sonoma Coast State Park near Jenner that is managed by the LandPaths nonprofit conservation group. (John Burgess/Press Democrat file photo)

With the first weekend of March ahead and a forecast of more spring-like temperatures ahead, many, including myself, will be out hiking more and more. When I stop and think about all the options for outdoors activities, especially walks and hikes, in this area, it is staggering. In addition to the well-known network of city, regional and state parks, there are lots of other open space places to explore. These places are protected through easements, extensive deals, legacy bequests or outright purchases. And behind all those efforts are some dedicated local people and organizations.

Today’s news about the $24 million to protect Preservation Ranch is a big deal, as is the recent opening of Taylor Mountain as a new county park. And that’s how it is around here – a mix of small and big steps to preserve and protect open space. Not everyone agrees with every project, but it’s hard to not be impressed by the passion and commitment of the people who are usually the ones behind the scenes in those projects making them happen. They can take years of slogging through legal documents, property records and negotiations by a lot of people who are generally unsung. Those folks do a lot to improve the quality of life for others in this community, and I, for one, am grateful for what they give. Especially today.