Priority Conservation Areas | Plans + Projects | Our Work

Priority Conservation Areas

PCAs are locations designated for the protection of natural habitats and the preservation of open space for future generations.

This includes farming, ranching, recreational and resource lands.

Child in field
Annie Burke
Farmlands are eligible for protection as a Priority Conservation Area.

PCAs are established through the purchase of key natural lands, or through conservation easements with willing property owners.

These sites are identified in partnership with property owners, land trusts, open space districts, cities’ and counties’ parks and recreation departments, and other local jurisdictions.

PCAs are a modern expression of the Bay Area’s century-long concern for and protection of our parks and open spaces.

Get more details about PCAs in our current Plan Bay Area.


MTC tapped $10 million of federal funds to establish a pilot program for PCA grants.

Working in tandem with ABAG, we tapped the California Coastal Conservancy to screen proposals for up to $5 million in PCA grants in Alameda, Contra Costa, San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Clara counties.

County congestion management agencies evaluated proposals for the remaining $5 million to be used for grants in Marin, Napa, Solano and Sonoma counties.

The California Coastal Conservancy recommended 13 projects for funding through the PCA Grant pilot program:

  • $1 million to the San Francisco P.U.C. for construction of a Bay Area Ridge Trail extension on Skyline Ridge in San Mateo County’s Peninsula Watershed;
  • $1 million to the Port of San Francisco for construction of public access improvements at Crane Cove Park at Pier 70;
  • $1 million to City of Berkeley for Bay Trail construction at the Berkeley Marina;
  • $1 million to East Bay Regional Parks District for construction of public access improvements at the Breuner Marsh Restoration in Contra Costa County;
  • $750,000 to East Bay Regional Parks for Bay Trail construction between Gilman and Buchanan streets in McLaughlin Eastshore State Park;
  • $712,700 to City of San Jose for construction of the Coyote Creek Trail between Brokaw Road and the Union Pacific railroad tracks;
  • $500,000 to San Mateo County Parks Department for acquisition of a 174-acre Linda Mar property to be added to Memorial County Park;
  • $500,000 to Contra Costa Transportation Authority and the Brentwood Agricultural Land Trust for an access easement to the Brentwood Wallace Ranch;
  • $500,000 to City and County of San Francisco to advance planning for a new park along the India Basin shoreline;
  • $167,589 to City and County of San Francisco to advance plans for improving pedestrian and bicycle access along and across Twin Peaks Boulevard;
  • $119,600 to East Bay Regional Parks for Bay Trail construction between Pinole Shores and Bayfront Park;
  • $100,000 to Contra Costa Resource Conservation District for construction of a Pinole Creek fish passage under Interstate 80;  and
  • $100,000 to City of Pacifica for design and construction of a Bay Area Ridge Trail connection to Milagra Ridge.

Among ABAG’s responsibilities is updating the PCA guidelines to better define how different kinds of PCAs can support agriculture, recreation, natural habitats and other priorities.

MTC and ABAG together will draw on lessons learned through the pilot program for PCA grants.

We will also draw on the expertise of local cities and counties, state and county farm bureaus, open space agencies, foundations and nonprofits, and state and federal agencies