Recent Comments


    Michael Boland’s Visionary Leadership Has Improved Multiple San Francisco Parks and Trails

    Michael Boland
    Courtesy of Presidio Trust

    In his over three decades of leadership, first as Director of Park Projects for the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy and now as Chief Park Officer for the Presidio Trust, Michael Boland has either helped improve or create some of San Francisco’s most iconic green spaces. Recently he announced that he will be retiring from his present role later this year, inspiring the San Francisco Bay Times to look back at his many achievements over the past 34 years.

    Between 1990 and 1997, while at the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy, he managed the planning and design for the $36 million  transformation of Crissy Field. His other projects included the Alcatraz Island Master Plan and, of special importance to the LGBTQ+ community, the National AIDS Memorial Grove. An out gay man, Boland was the “Designer of Record” of the Grove, which also involved numerous other stakeholders and volunteers.

    Michael Boland (right)
    Courtesy of Epic Trails, Heliconia

    As Barry Owen wrote in a piece for The Frisc, the Grove is “a paragon of landscape design” that “is as much a destination for inspiration, pleasure, and joy as for remembrance and solemn reflection. As its creators understood, these are not opposites. Some come to the Grove to recall, mourn, and celebrate lost lives. But its orchestrated beauty also welcomes weddings, elaborate sit-down feasts, and the regular convening of exuberant flaggers, those West Coast whirling dervishes who gather to spread, twirl, and flutter gaily colored silk wings to pulsing dance music.”

    After Boland joined the Presidio Trust in 2001, he played a key role in transforming the Presidio from a historic Army post to a world class national park site. Under his leadership, his team created a comprehensive trail and overlooks network, restored the Presidio’s rich mosaic of natural and cultural landscapes, and established national park experiences that serve urban youth.

    Michael Boland welcoming participants to the Presidio’s MLK Day of Service
    Photo Courtesy of Alison Taggart-Barone

    The Presidio’s transformation reached a high point with the 2022 opening of Presidio Tunnel Tops: 14 acres of trails, gardens, overlooks, and youth play spaces built atop a reclaimed highway tunnel. Boland has also played a role in the transformation of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, America’s largest and most heavily visited urban national park.

    Michael Boland (left) releasing Western Pond Turtles into the water at Mountain Lake
    Photo Charity Vargas Photography

    It is work that, as Boland recently wrote, requires caring “deeply about making national parks welcoming to all, about protecting biodiversity and promoting environmental sustainability, and about working on a team dedicated to excellence in public service.”

    Presidio staff, including Michael Boland (left), joined city officials in a ribbon cutting ceremony at the Battery Bluff site.

    Whenever you visit any of the parks that Boland has helped either to establish or transform, give thanks to this remarkable, visionary leader who has dedicated much of his life to improving San Francisco and the city’s ecological footprint.

    Earth Month 2024
    Published on April 18, 2024