The origins of Grassroots Ecology date all the way back to Earth Day in 1970. A group of local environmentalists who were working hard to conserve bayland and foothill ecosystems came together to found the Peninsula Conservation Center Foundation (PCC) to forward that mission and give it a home.

Two decades later, a new generation of environmentalists including Dennis Hayes (the National Coordinator for the original Earth Day in 1970) convened to organize Earth Day 1990 in downtown Palo Alto office space donated by a local environmental advocate and developer, Jim Baer.  When Dennis Hayes later closed this office, local Earth Day volunteers used the space to found Bay Area Action and continue their environmental work on issues such as forest protection and anti-nuclear energy advocacy.

Ten years later, the two generations of environmental leaders joined forces, merging their organizations to form Acterra, a nonprofit dedicated to working with community volunteers on local environmental solutions. In 2016, after several years of strong growth, Acterra’s Stewardship Program spun off to become Grassroots Ecology.

Grassroots Ecology’s oldest project, the San Francisquito Watershed Project, started as a project of the PCC in 1993. Our Native Plant Nursery was first located in the backyard of a dedicated volunteer and later staff of the San Francisquito Watershed Council, Jim Johnson. BAA started the Arastradero Project in 1997 and our Stevens Creek Project began as the Stevens and Permanente Creek Watershed Council in 2003.

Milestones in Grassroots Ecology History

1993 — The PCC organizes a group of stakeholders to work on natural resource restoration and protection, education, and other issues important to the San Francisquito Creek watershed and the people who live in it.

1997 — BAA partners with the City of Palo Alto to connect people with nature and to accomplish specific stewardship goals at Arastradero Preserve.

2000 — The PCC merges with BAA to become “Acterra: Action for a Sustainable Earth” (later changed to “Action for a Healthy Planet”). One of Acterra’s “flagship projects” is the Arastradero Stewardship Program.

2005 — The Arastradero Stewardship Program expands to become the Acterra Stewardship Program and we adopt the Native Plant Nursery started by the San Francisquito Watershed Project.

2007 — Acterra’s fiscally sponsored project, the San Francisquito Watershed Council, becomes part of the Acterra Stewardship Program’s San Francisquito Watershed Project.

2007 — Acterra’s Stewardship Program begins an educational and restoration project working primarily with middle school students at Stulsaft Park in Redwood City.

2009 — The City of Los Altos partners with the Acterra Stewardship Program to bring youth and adults to Redwood Grove for educational and restoration activities.

2010 — The Acterra Stewardship Program begins an “Urban Ecology” project to “involve, educate and inspire the public to create healthy native ecosystems in our urban and suburban communities.”

2012 — The Acterra Stewardship Program merges with the Stevens and Permanente Creek Watershed Council (SPCWC, founded in 2003) and adopts their programs, which involve citizen scientists in monitoring water quality and creek bugs as indicators of creek health.

2012 — Acterra’s Stewardship Program expands habitat restoration to Stevens and Permanente Creeks at Permanente Creek on the Google Campus, and along Stevens Creek at McClellan Ranch in Cupertino.

2013 — Acterra’s Stewardship Program launches its baylands restoration project in East Palo Alto in partnership with Save the Bay and the City of East Palo Alto.

2013 — Acterra’s Stewardship Program takes on coordination of a Citizen Science creek monitoring project for San Francisquito, Matadero, Barron, and Adobe Creeks in partnership with the City of Palo Alto.

2013 — Our work for the City of Palo Alto now includes helping to expand the volunteer events at the 1,400 acre Foothills Park Preserve in Palo Alto, which were previously organized by the Friends of Foothills Park.

2014 — Acterra’s Stewardship Program is awarded a contract by the Town of Los Altos Hills to run stewardship activities at three open space preserves: Byrne, O’Keefe, and Juan Prado Mesa.

2015 — Acterra’s Stewardship Program begins a partnership with Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District to involve volunteers in restoration projects at the Hawthorns and Russian Ridge Preserves.

2015 — Acterra’s Stewardship Program is selected to run the water pollution prevention School Outreach program for the Palo Alto Regional Water Quality Control Plant.

2016 — Acterra’s Stewardship Program is awarded a grant from the Santa Clara Valley Water District (SCVWD) to focus on Green Stormwater Infrastructure in Palo Alto for three years.

2016 — Acterra’s Stewardship Program partners with the UC Cooperative Extension to train and graduate our first class of 26 California Naturalists.

2016 — Additional partnership with Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District is made possible by a SCVWD grant to restore Hendrys Creek.

2016 — Acterra’s Stewardship Program becomes Grassroots Ecology, a fiscally sponsored project of Acterra.