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Marin County University of California Cooperative Extension
936 7th St Ste B Pmb 440, Novato, CA 94945

The UCCE office on Novato Boulevard is one of 64 regional offices around the state that oversees all things relatedMore to agriculture. David Lewis, who specializes in watershed management, is the director of the Marin office and oversees 16 others.

The office is home to the Marin County Fish and Wildlife Commission, the local 4-H youth group, Marin Master Gardeners and Grown In Marin, which oversees programs such as Marin Farmers Markets. Staffers in this office also focus on nutrition, agritourism, watershed management, consumer sciences, organic/sustainable agriculture, pest management and ag diseases such as Sudden Oak Death.

The Fish and Wildlife Commission advises the Marin County Board of Supervisors on expenditure of money obtained through fines levied for fish and wildlife violations.

More than half of Marin County is undeveloped land, and most of that portion is either owned by the national park system, state park system, county open space, environmental conservancies, private land trusts or ranchers and farmers.

Scottsdale Pond/Scottsdale Marsh
Redwood Blvd & Rowland Blvd, Novato, CA 94945
Bird fans flock to Scottsdale Pond, a beautiful spot just south of the downtown area. The small pond, suitable forMore fishing, is just off the Rowland Boulevard exit on Highway 101, and Scottsdale Marsh is spread out just to the north on either side of Redwood Boulevard. Interpretive signs are placed along the walkway next to the edge of the pond, and they focus on the wildlife often seen there. Egrets, pelicans, cormorants and a variety of ducks call the pond home. They can be spied upon with binoculars from a wooden gazebo on the southwest corner of the pond. A short walk from the street, a life-sized bronze pelican was installed as public art in 2009. A block north, the marshes have wooden-deck overlooks where visitors can view the wildlife.
O'Hair Park
885 Sutro Ave, Novato, CA 94947

At 98 acres, O'Hair Park is the largest owned by the city of Novato, but it's also the least developed. It isMore situated at the junction of Novato Boulevard and Sutro Avenue in the northwest corner of the city -- basically where suburban civilization and rural West Marin meet. From the intersection it runs west all the way to Stafford Lake County Park and south to the backyards of homes on Michelle Circle, Trish Drive and Daryl Avenue.

The park is open space, wild vegetation and dirt trails other than the leased-out Morning Star Farm equestrian center at Novato/Sutro intersection and the Dogbone Meadow dog park a half mile west. The Rueben Kaelher Trail, which runs east-west through the park, is popular with residents and horseback riders because of the proximity to Morning Star and the San Marin/Pleasant Valley neighborhoods. Novato Creek also runs east-west through the park and attracts all sorts of wildlife.

Another trail leads to the south, up part of Little Mountain (the highest point in the park at more than 900 feet) and into the Verissimo Valle hills, Indian Tree Open Space and up to the Bay Ridge Trail. Along with nearby Mount Burdell and its trails, these O'Hair Park trails are prime sources of recreation in North Novato.

Parking is along Sutro just south of Morning Star Farm and San Marin High School. Other trails start near Dogbone Meadow and at the west end of Center Road.

Bel Marin Keys Community Services District
4 Montego Ky, Novato, CA 94949

The district, founded in 1961, is the governing body for this waterfront neighborhood. The neighborhood, which doesMore not have a homeowners association, is amid the marshlands east of Highway 101 and south of Highway 37 and is just outside the Novato city limits.

A community services district is the smallest form of local government. The Bel Marin Keys CSD has five board members elected by residents within the district. Ernie Ganas is the CSD board president for 2010 and Madeline Thomas is the district manager. The CSD manages all the public facilities with the district borders, including parks, streetlights and undeveloped lands. Services are contracted out independently for garbage, water, sewage and public safety and paid via property taxes.

The district facility, formerly a real estate office, serves as a community center with a full kitchen and bar that doubles as the clubhouse for the Bel Marin Keys Yacht Club. There are lots of tables and chairs available, and the view of the waterfront homes out the eastern windows is wonderful. It is available for rent only to Bel Marin Keys residents.

Keys residents receive a community newsletter from the district every other month, and the Web site is a wealth of information for updates on meeting schedules, tides, wildlife, environmental impact reports and nearby developments.

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