Animals of the Pride Flag
One of the beautiful things about nature is the diversity of life represented within it, including every color of the rainbow! Biodiversity in nature is absolutely critical for preserving habitat, maintaining a sustainable food supply, promoting healthy drinking water, mitigating the impacts of climate change, and so much more.
Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority Awards over $910K for Local Environmental Programming during 30th Anniversary Year
San José, CA (May 19, 2023) – The Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority’s Board of Directors voted unanimously to award over $910k in Measure Q and Measure T grant funding to 13 local organizations for the Program category of the 2022 - 2023 cycle of the Urban Grant Program.
One-way Trails: Why Have Them?
*UPDATE*: This topic will be discussed at the Use & Management Committee meeting in summer of 2023.
In December 2021, the Open Space Authority launched a survey to gather public opinion about one-way (also known as directional) trails, inform their future at open space preserves, and ultimately evaluate how we can provide more meaningful, safe, and functional nature experiences for all. Currently, one-way directions are in effect on two Authority-managed trails: the Arrowhead Loop Trail (Coyote Valley) and Aquila Loop Trail (Sierra Vista).
Behind-the-Scenes at Máyyan ‘Ooyákma Coyote Ridge (Spring 2023)
Every year thousands of people sign up for Open Access Days at Máyyan ‘Ooyákma - Coyote Ridge Open Space Preserve. 2023 was different - with construction and trail building in full swing, the Open Space Authority hosted preserve access in the form of unprecedented volunteer efforts to build the trails at this preserve. The new preserve will officially unveil to the public in Fall 2023, but in the meantime, here are a few behind-the-scenes photos to enjoy from Spring 2023.
Staff Spotlight - Meet Jackie
Jackie Latham always knew that she wanted to pursue a meaningful career path. “I wanted to do something good for earth and people, and I feel that the conservation world is doing just that.”
Farmer's Market Guide to the Santa Clara Valley
Spring is in full swing, which means it’s farmer’s market season! Those who live in and around the Santa Clara Valley are lucky to have access to delicious produce year-round, but as the rain subsides, farm stands are back and better than ever. Spending a morning at the farmer’s market is a fun weekend activity, and a great way to support local farmers, farmlands, and the local economy.
Why Become an Open Space Authority Volunteer?
Message from Gavin Comstock, Volunteer Program Administrator
Recently, I had a great conversation with a friend exploring when it was that we first experienced a “moment of wonder” in nature. Surprisingly, I had to dig deep to identify exactly when the hook was set. Growing up in a family that did a lot of things outside, but not necessarily camping, my formative experiences are characterized as much by people as by place. As much as the outdoors was the setting, it was a combination of personalities, places, and attitudes that informed my enjoyment. It was not until my early twenties and my participation in a semester long NOLS course (National Outdoor Leadership Schools) in the desert southwest that I found myself slack jawed at the surreal beauty of nature. Ultimately, our conversation wound its way from what formed our love of nature to considering why we still prioritize time outdoors, with others or alone.
The Future of Agriculture
Everyone needs food. But in many parts of the state, including here in our region, there is food scarcity. According to recent research from Second Harvest Food Bank, one in four people in Santa Clara County are at risk of hunger. With a changing climate, protecting the foundation of our food systems (farms and ranches) is imperative. In addition to protecting these operations and the lands they depend on, the Open Space Authority is exploring sustainable and responsive management practices that support local farmers and ranchers, promote the resilience of food production, increase soil health, and minimize the carbon footprint of agriculture in the region.
30 Open Spaces We Love
To celebrate the Open Space Authority's 30th Anniversary Year, we challenge YOU to visit 30 of our favorite open spaces in and around the Santa Clara Valley! To keep track of which parks you visit, check out the 30 Open Spaces We Love BINGO challenge here.
Helen Chapman fights to save San Jose’s open space
Growing up, Helen Chapman was surrounded by acres of nature in Orinda. That’s when her passion for preserving open space began. And now, as the chair of the Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority, Chapman is its steward and Coyote Valley is her crown jewel.
Best Wildflower Viewing in the South Bay
Every year after the rain, the golden hillsides of the Santa Clara Valley burst to life. Green grass blankets the land, accompanied by bright, colorful displays of iconic California wildflowers. Whether you’re a local, or new to the area, these seasonal viewings rarely disappoint, but there are a few things you’ll need to know before hitting the trails to find them.
New Trails Underway at Máyyan ‘Ooyákma - Coyote Ridge
Fifteen minutes from downtown San José is a place called Máyyan ‘Ooyákma – Coyote Ridge. This unique natural landscape was protected by the Open Space Authority and partners in 2015. Nestled in the foothills of the Diablo Range, the preserve features rolling serpentine hillsides and breathtaking views of Coyote Valley. As the preserve reaches the final stages of the Public Access Project, the Open Space Authority is preparing to welcome visitors this fall. But before visitors can come out and hit the trails – the trails need to get built!
Staff Spotlight - Meet David
After 16 years at the Open Space Authority, David Tharp can sum up his career in three words: "I fix stuff.”
Mercury News: Open Space Authority celebrates 30 years, 30,000 acres
AGENCY'S GOAL IS TO FORM PERMANENT SANTA CLARA VALLEY GREENBELT
The Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year by achieving a milestone of conserving 30,000 acres of open space. This open space includes 16 agricultural and natural resource conservation easements covering 5,146 acres.
Read the full article by Lisa Thorn in The Mercury News.
30 Years: Protecting Nature Together, Forever
2023 marks the 30th Anniversary of the Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority. The agency was founded in 1993 as a public, independent special district – envisioned by dedicated local citizens and enacted by the California State Legislature – with the mission of forever protecting natural and agricultural lands and connecting people to nature.
30th Anniversary Message from the General Manager
The Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority is proud to celebrate 30 years of protecting nature together, forever. It was 1993, when ordinary citizens, local elected leaders and the California State Legislature joined together to form a new special district and public land conservation agency in Santa Clara County whose mission would be to balance growth by creating a permanent Santa Clara Valley Greenbelt of protected natural and agricultural lands.
8 Most Romantic Animals of Santa Clara Valley
Humans aren’t the only ones who appreciate a little romance. Santa Clara Valley is home to a vast diversity of wildlife, and some of them really know how to turn up the charm. Feel free to take notes as you read how these fascinating creatures win over their mates!
How to Have a Sustainable Valentine's Day
Did you know that Valentine's Day contributes, on average, an additional 9 million kilograms of carbon dioxide emissions? With mass-produced flowers, gifts wrapped in plastic, and cheaply made items, the holiday adds an unnecessary strain on the planet.
How Plants Prepare for Spring
After weeks of heavy rain, hillsides are turning green, and it’s beginning to feel like spring is right around the corner. You may know that spring is "baby season” for local wildlife like ground squirrels, bobcat kits, and red-tailed hawks, but did you know the same is true for native plant life? Plants are also preparing to create new life, and in fact, this preparation happens all year long.
Atmospheric River Storm: Open Spaces At Work
The first few weeks of 2023 brought a parade of Atmospheric River Storm events that ravaged California. Several feet of rain and powerful wind events caused widespread power outages, and many areas experienced intense flooding, fallen trees, and mudslides. Though the storms caused a fair amount of disruption across the region, Santa Clara Valley’s open spaces (our critical natural infrastructure) likely helped mitigate even further damage.
Staff Spotlight - Meet Kat Hill
Kat Hill, Volunteer Programs Coordinator, at the Authority, always knew she wanted to work in the outdoors. Growing up in the Mojave desert of southern California, surrounded by Joshua trees and the unique desert terrain, nature felt like home to her from an early age.
Winter Produce Guide
Everyone deserves access to healthy, nutritious food. When you shop for locally grown produce, you help support local farmers, your health, and you also reduce your carbon footprint! Keep reading to learn which fruits and vegetables are in season this winter plus a cozy recipe idea to help it all come together.
Winter Wildlife: California Tiger Salamander
It’s salamander season, when California tiger salamanders are returning to their ponds to breed.
Naughty and Nice Wildlife
Santa Clara Valley is teeming with wildlife that depend on open spaces to survive and thrive. In honor of the holiday season, we’re making a list and checking it twice to see which wild animals are naughty or nice.
Celebrating Open Space Volunteers
In 2022, volunteers completed over 230 trail patrols on bike, foot, and horseback, as they welcomed visitors to preserves, reported trail conditions and wildlife sightings, and supported critical field operations. They also contributed over 600 hours towards facilitating public enjoyment of our preserves, including helping during busy spring hours, and supporting large-scale events such as Open Access Days at Máyyan 'Ooyákma – Coyote Ridge Open Space Preserve and Diablo Foothills, and Earth Week celebrations in Coyote Valley. By the end of 2022, the hard work of volunteers are expected to total over 3,900 hours towards our mission informed projects!
Fifth Graders Become Oak Tree Heroes
In October 2022, the Open Space Authority partnered with Point Blue Conservation Science (Point Blue) to host an educational field trip in Coyote Valley through the Students and Teachers Restoring a Watershed (STRAW) program. Over the course of a few hours, around 90 fifth graders from San Martin/Gwinn Environmental Science Academy built direct-seed cages for acorn plantings and learned how oak trees contribute to a healthy watershed.
Croy Redwoods Preserve Update
The Open Space Authority celebrates the addition of 80 acres to Croy Redwoods Preserve. This is thanks to a generous property donation from the Bay family, who owned and enjoyed these lands for over 50 years. “It is our honor and pleasure to preserve this beautiful landscape for future generations of public enjoyment and habitat,” says John Bay, of the Bay family, regarding the donation.
Spina Farms Pumpkin Patch Connects Community to Local Agriculture on Open Space Authority Lands
In late 2021, the Open Space Authority -- in partnership with the State of California Department of Conservation through the Sustainable Agricultural Lands Conservation program (SALC), Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA), and the Santa Clara County Planning Department -- protected sixty acres of prime farmland at Laguna Avenue and Santa Teresa Boulevard in the middle of Coyote Valley (also known as Mid Coyote Valley).
The property became known as “Laguna 60.”
Seven Reasons to be Thankful For Nature
November is a time for gratitude, with holidays approaching and the beginning of a new year. As we reflect on the people, places, and experiences that bring us joy, here’s a reminder of all the amazing benefits the open spaces of the Santa Clara Valley provide. May this list inspire you to move through the holidays with gratitude, love, and respect for....
Exciting Changes for Open Space Authority Urban Grant Program
The Open Space Authority’s Urban Grant Program, funded by ballot Measure Q and Measure T, aims to directly benefit Santa Clara Valley residents by bringing nature to people and providing funding to local community organizations. Solicitations for the new grant cycle are now open, so keep reading to learn more about some exciting updates for grant applicants.
Staff Spotlight - Meet Jennifer Hooper
Jennifer Hooper, Associate Open Space Planner for the Open Space Authority, works on a variety of current and long-range planning projects. These include planning for facilities and improvements to existing preserves, planning new preserves, supporting the Authority’s American’s with Disabilities Act Transition Plan and Coyote Valley Conservation Areas Master Plan, and much more. One project she’s particularly excited about is the opening of Máyyan 'Ooyákma – Coyote Ridge Open Space Preserve, which she’s been working on since she was hired in 2018.
The Season of Raptors
November is migration season for birds of prey, meaning you may see a variety of raptors during your next outdoor adventure. For birds of prey that migrate, this is the time of year when they start coming back to nest or “winter” in preparation for mating season in the spring. Keep reading to learn about the raptors found in Santa Clara Valley.
Open Space Renames Coyote Ridge
On October 27, 2022, the Open Space Authority Board of Directors voted unanimously to include a Chochenyo translation of “Coyote Ridge” alongside the current preserve name. The preserve's official new name is Máyyan 'Ooyákma – Coyote Ridge Open Space Preserve.
Guide to Biking in Santa Clara Valley
Whether you are an experienced cyclist, just getting started, looking for mountain biking, urban bike trails, or family-friendly biking areas - our Guide to Santa Clara Valley Biking will help you have the best experience on two wheels!
Autumn Produce Guide
Everyone deserves access to healthy, nutritious food. When you shop for locally grown produce, you help support local farmers, your health, and you also reduce your carbon footprint! Keep reading to learn about what fruits and vegetables to look for this autumn and a recipe idea to make it all come together.
Making Strides in Climate Policy
This yearwas historic for climate policy in the United States, namely with President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act, the country’s strongest climate policy to date.When addressing climate change, policy can either be a major barrier or an exceptional aid, and it looks like we are moving in the right direction.
Animal Crossing: Improved Fencing for Local Wildlife
In 2022, the Open Space Authority installed new, wildlife-friendly fencing at Coyote Ridge Open Space Preserve. While it may not seem like the most dramatic restoration initiative, it is important for helping wildlife move throughout landscapes where conservation grazing is a critical strategy for grassland ecology and rare species management.
Spina Farms Open for Fall Fun on Protected Lands
Pumpkins are the ultimate fall icon, and where better to find them than at your local pumpkin patch?
Spina Farms Pumpkin Patch in Coyote Valley (just south of San José) is now open seven days a week through November 6, to serve the community with fall fun and agricultural education. The Patch was originally located off Bailey Ave but has since relocated a quarter mile south to Laguna Ave and Santa Teresa Blvd in partnership with the Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority.
Quail on the Trail
As human kiddos are returning to school, quail babies (or chicks) are getting ready to leave the nest. Keep reading to learn more about California's official state bird found here in the Santa Clara Valley.
Seizing Squash Season
Nothing screams fall like festive gourds, pumpkins, and squash - and all three are notoriously used to create a cornucopia of autumnal décor. Keep reading for some fun ways to prepare squash, as well as some fun facts to share around the dinner table.
Staff Spotlight - Meet Lena Eyen
Lena Eyen, Community Impact and Policy Specialist, loves that she hasn’t had a linear paths leading up to where she is today at the Open Space Authority. “It’s a very interdepartmental role – I like how I get to connect with other departments and technical experts and support their work.” As a member of the Open Space Authority Public Affairs team, Lena’s work is focused on legislative affairs and local policy, as well as agency partnerships and community engagement.
Early Detection, Rapid Response
When it comes to invasive species, the best time to address the problem is as soon as you realize you have one. Invasive plants can quickly start outcompeting native species and spread to unmanageable levels, which has harmful effects on native wildlife populations. By addressing invasive plants when populations remain small, the Open Space Authority can improve the likelihood of successfully eradicating unwanted plants and using cost-effective treatments. To address these undesirable plant species at their initial stages of invasion, the Open Space Authority launched a pilot program for Early Detection and Rapid Response (EDRR) in 2022, starting a process that will occur in yearly cycle.
Community Connections - Spade & Plow
Spade & Plow, a family-owned organic farm, has announced an exciting new partnership with Van Dyke Ranch in Gilroy. Keep reading to learn how this benefits local communities and helps with the implementation of the Santa Clara Valley Agricultural Plan, a joint strategy of Santa Clara County and the Open Space Authority to protect farmland from development and reduce greenhouse gas emissions which directly contribute to climate change.
Volunteer Restoration - A Year at Furtado
"Above all, restoration is a process."
Nature Photography 101
Nature photography is an awesome pastime – it gets you outside, it helps you appreciate and learn about your local environment, and it can even help the conservation movement.
2022 France-California Conservation and Climate Exchange
It all began when a French geographer discovered a parallel between the importance of preserving agricultural and natural lands on the Plateau de Saclay in France, and in Silicon Valley. Keep reading to learn more about this exciting information and idea exchange as the Open Space Authority continues working to address climate change using nature-based solutions to serve local communities in Santa Clara Valley.
Summer Produce Guide
When you shop for locally grown produce, you help support local farmers, your health, and you also reduce your carbon footprint -so everyone wins! Keep reading to learn about some of the best fruits and vegetables sprouting up this summer, and a little recipe idea to make it all come together.
How to Move On From Plastic
At the Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority, we thank everyone for respecting and protecting open spaces and the wildlife that call these places home by packing out your trash. One big, but easy step towards reducing litter in parks and open spaces is saying no to single-use plastics. This July, the Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority office is going plastic-free, and we invite you to join us!
Staff Spotlight - Meet Megan Robinson and Andres Campusano
Meet Supervising Open Space Technicians, Megan Robinson and Andres Campusano! Learn how these two work to protect the natural and working landscapes of Santa Clara Valley, as well as their efforts to make everyone feel welcome at Open Space Authority preserves.
Snakes of the Sssssouth Bay
The Santa Clara Valley is home to a variety of snakes. They are ectothermic, meaning they are cold-blooded and rely on their external environment to regulate their body temperature. So as it warms up in the spring and summer months, they come up from underground to soak up the heat and breed soon after. Like them, or not, snakes are vital to their ecosystems. Keep reading to learn why it's important for us to respect and protect snakes.
Wild About Wildlife Restoration
Open Space Authority Awarded $247K for Critical Habitat Restoration Work
July is Wild about Wildlife Month, and the Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority is highlighting its important work to conserve and restore critical wildlife habitat in Coyote Valley. A particular area of focus is Fisher Creek on the west side of the valley. At this location, wildlife travels between over one million acres of habitat in the Santa Cruz Mountains and the Diablo Range, seeking the cover of plants and trees in the riparian corridors as they move across Coyote Valley.
Popular Pumpkin Patch Moves to Open Space Authority Farmlands
Open Space Authority Protects 60 Acres for Sustainable Agriculture
The Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority has entered a three-year lease with Spina Farms Pumpkin Patch and Fruit Stand to reopen at a new location at Laguna Avenue and Santa Teresa Boulevard in Coyote Valley.
Sneak Peek: Planning a New Preserve
Just 15 miles from downtown San José is Máyyan 'Ooyákma – Coyote Ridge, where the Open Space Authority has protected over 1,800 acres that are co-managed by the Santa Clara Valley Habitat Agency. With the design and permitting process in the final stages, plans for expanded public access at Máyyan 'Ooyákma – Coyote Ridge Open Space Preserve are well underway. After years of planning, construction groundbreaking is set to begin in late 2022, with the grand opening slated for 2023. In the meantime, keep reading to peek behind the curtains of this open space preserve in-the-making.
Mountain Lions: It's Not Easy being King
It's almost the end of cubbing season for mountain lions, meaning these mothers are raising their young and getting them ready to survive in the wild. While cubs learn a lot about how to survive from their mother and the first couple years of their lives, it won’t be an easy feat living outside of their dens. Though mountain lions are apex predators, being at the top of the food chain still has its challenges.
Unsung Heifers of the Open Space Authority
Ever visit an Open Space Authority preserve to get moo-ving and spot a few cows? While they may make it feel like you're traversing through the set of an old Western film, those cows are not paid actors! The Authority frequently uses cattle grazing as an udder-ly integral conservation and management strategy.
A Guide to Keeping Wildlife (and Yourself) Safe
When you visit a park or open space, you step into the home of a variety of plants and animals. While you are likely to see small critters like birds, ground squirrels, and insects on the trail, you may also see more elusive and commonly misunderstood creatures like coyotes, bobcats, mountain lions, and rattlesnakes. But rest assured, these animals are not out to get you. Keep reading to learn how you can protect local wildlife (and yourself) out on the trail. (ESPAÑOL | TIẾNG VIỆT).
Local Second Graders Restore Riparian Habitat
They dug holes, they hammered stakes into coconut fiber mats, and they planted a whole lot of native plants - 159, to be exact - all to help restore essential creekside habitat the Fisher’s Bend riparian area. Pretty impressive work for three groups of second graders!
Staff Spotlight - Meet Teri
Teri Rogoway just reached her fifteenth year at the Authority but getting here was never a straight path. How did she end up here? Well, “It all started with a rattlesnake.”
How the Open Space Authority Reduces Fire Risk
Climate change is a big factor behind wildfire intensity, and California fires are burning hotter and spreading faster than ever before. When it comes to mitigating wildfire risks, a proactive approach is key to protecting life and property. Learn about the Open Space Authority's Fuel Management Program and work to prevent wildland fires in and around the open spaces and wildland urban interface zones of the Santa Clara Valley.
Eight Adorable Springtime Baby Animals
Spring is the season of new life! Below are eight of some of the most recognizable animals that will be forming a new generation in the next couple of months, and that you may be lucky enough to spot on the trail! Just remember to respect these critters and keep your distance.
Alum Rock Park Turns 150
2022 marks the 150th anniversary of Alum Rock Park, one of the oldest municipal parks in California, which opened in 1872. Less than ten miles from downtown San José, Alum Rock Park is a landmark for the community. With Alum Rock Park connected to Sierra Vista Open Space Preserve, the Authority is proud to partner with the City of San José to continue its legacy of connecting the community to nature.
Coyote Valley Restoration Project Recharging South Bay's Groundwater Amid CA's Drought
SANTA CLARA CO., Calif. (KGO) -- Flying over the sweeping green hills, Coyote Valley can seem a world away from the urban core of Santa Clara County. But when it comes to water, it's connected in ways that are becoming increasingly important in the face of drought and climate change.
By Spencer Christian and Tim Didion of ABC7.
An Earth Day Address
A message from Open Space Authority General Manager Andrea Mackenzie:
"To reconnect with nature is key if we want to save the planet."
You don’t have to be a scientist to have noticed this year’s unseasonably warm, dry winter. As climate change progresses, we are experiencing shifting seasons, shorter and more severe periods of rainfall, longer droughts, extreme weather events, and record temperatures. The climate crisis is upon us, but there is much that can be done to address these threats, right here in our own backyard. I was pleased to see the 2022 theme of Earth Day, Invest in Our Planet, because one of the smartest investments we can make is the protection and stewardship of natural infrastructure.
Spreckels Hill and Fisher Creek Restoration Projects
Across the state, safeguarding water resources is an essential and ongoing priority as California’s drought conditions continue. And as the Open Space Authority’s restoration work around Coyote Valley gets underway, there are two exciting new riparian and wetland restoration projects in the pipeline. In partnership with the Bonneville Environmental Foundation, the Spreckels Wetland Cleanup and Enhancement Project, which began last year and the Fisher Creek Riparian Restoration, beginning in 2022.
A Raptor You Should Recognize
We’ve all seen it – a show or movie or video featuring the majestic bald eagle and its patriotic cry. What may surprise you, however, is that the high-pitched vocalization used most in these clips is not from the bald eagle at all, but from the red-tailed hawk.
10 Locally Sourced Foods to Buy this Spring
Once known as the Valley of Heart’s Delight, the Santa Clara Valley has a rich agricultural history. For years, the landscape was abundant with orchards, trees, shrubs, and flowering plants, and at one point was one of the largest fruit producing and packing regions in the world. Due to development, the county has lost well over 20,000 acres of farmland in the last thirty years. But that doesn’t mean the Valley of Heart’s Delight is a thing of the past!
12 Ways to Practice Self-Care in Nature
Prioritizing time for yourself is challenging, but please believe us when we say YOU ARE WORTH IT!
Connecting with nature reduces stress and helps improve both physical and mental wellbeing. Studies show that 120 minutes in nature a week contributed substantially to lower stress and blood pressure, improved mood, increased self-esteem, and greater immune function.
Protecting Santa Clara Valley's Farmland: A Partner's Perspective
California is home to innovative farmers and ranchers using climate-friendly practices that reduce on-farm greenhouse gas emissions, sequester carbon, and have other health and environmental benefits.
Learn how the Open Space Authority is conserving agricultural land to limit urban sprawl and reduce emissions.
Written by Becca Lucas, California Climate & Agriculture Network (CalCAN) Communications & Operations Manager.
Santa Clara Valley is home to a few native species who embody the spirit of April Fool’s Day, every day...
Tibbott: The Synergy of Planning and Conservation: State Investment and Land Use Policy Come Together in Santa Clara County
Read a story of how visionary land conservation interests in Santa Clara County are working to preserve the Valley’s rich agricultural and natural treasures with support from the Sustainable Agricultural Lands Conservation (SALC) Program and other state funding.
Written by Emily Tibbott, Senior Advisor for Land Conservation, and the Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority.
Santa Clara Valley Wildflower Guide
Spring in the Santa Clara Valley is the most colorful time of year! Open spaces provide habitat for many diverse species of native flowers, and every spring, you can find them across our region's hills, valleys, and woodlands.
From lilies to lupine, we’ve compiled this list of 24 flowers you can find in your open space preserves this spring. Happy Wildflower Season!
Celebrating Outdoor Spaces For All
During lockdowns, shelter-in-place, and stay at home orders over the past two years, open spaces became places of refuge, especially for those without backyards or urban greenspaces nearby. But for those who enjoyed the open spaces and trails “before it was cool,” increased visitation was a major change. So how do we adjust to the fact that more and more people are going outside and are visiting the hidden open space gems and best kept secret parks and trails?
Flower Frenzy 2022!
We’ve all heard of March Madness...now get ready for FLOWER FRENZY! We’re back for our SECOND season of the Open Space Authority’s Wildflower Bracket!
Join us this month for a fun wildflower-themed bracket to find out which species is this year’s favorite – while learning about native California flowers!
Community Connections: Julie Morris
In January 2022, Julie Morris was appointed as County Agricultural Liaison, a Cooperative Extension position supported by the Santa Clara County Agricultural Division and University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources. Guided by the Santa Clara Valley Agricultural Plan, (written in partnership between Santa Clara County and the Open Space Authority) Morris is working to promote and protect agriculture in the region. With 30 years of experience in ranching, journalism, and food marketing, she is well-qualified to support the County’s efforts to conserve agricultural viability and productivity.
Monarch Butterflies: Adaptation in Action
Adaptation is a mechanism in nature that helps plants and animals evolve to withstand new environments. After all, the ability to adapt to changing conditions is critical to resilience and longevity for any species. One small, but iconic species that is flexing their resilience in 2022 is the Western monarch butterfly, an invertebrate with a surprising capacity to respond and adapt to both positive and negative environmental changes.
Staff Spotlight: Meet Elizabeth Loretto
“The way I describe it is being responsible for the people, the systems, and the facility that will help everyone get their job done well.”
Elizabeth Loretto, Human Resources Officer at the Authority, never knew what she wanted to do with her career, but she knew she wanted to be a part of something larger than herself. Her mom worked at small, community and mission-based organization, and both of her parents spent much of their time volunteering in the community. “I always saw myself in that kind of role.”
Furtado Barn: From Ruin to Restoration
Tucked away behind a walnut orchard in the Sierra Vista Open Space Preserve is a small structure known as the Furtado Barn. For years, this barn and the riparian vegetation around it was overwhelmed by invasive weeds. But in 2018, Andres Campusano, Supervising Open Space Technician, and Daniel Turner, Open Space Technician I decided it was time to turn it around.
Fall in Love With These Six Outdoor Date Ideas
Valentine’s Day is approaching, so here’s a list of nature-filled activities you can do to celebrate all the love in your life. Whether you’re celebrating Valentine’s Day with your love, Palentine’s Day with a friend, Galentine’s Day with your gal pals, (or just really like boxes of chocolate) we have some fun ideas that you will be sure to love this February.
Why do Salamanders Breathe Through Their Skin?
It’s salamander season!
Although similar in shape, salamanders are not the same as lizards. In fact, they are amphibians, which means their skin is moist, and they are typically found in dark, damp environments. Although these creatures are quite gentle and non-aggressive, there are a few good reasons not to pick them up – including the fact that they are slimy and highly toxic.
Tips to Stay Safe and Prepared on the Trail
Not everyone needs Bear Grylls' level of wilderness expertise to stay safe outside in nature. The smallest safety measures can make the biggest difference – and can even save your life!
POST Permanently Protects 71 Acres in Mid Coyote Valley
On January 12, Peninsula Open Space Trust (POST) announced the purchase and permanent protection of approximately 71 acres within a key corridor that connects the North Coyote Valley Conservation Area to the Coyote Valley Open Space Preserve.
This transaction increases the number of protected acres in this “last chance” valley floor to more than 1,500. Located at the end of Richmond Avenue in Mid Coyote Valley, the property connects to several POST-protected properties that stretch along Santa Teresa Boulevard and Fisher Creek. Protecting it creates a 1.5-mile corridor of contiguous protected creek-side lands within the 100-year floodplain that extends south of Bailey Avenue.
Read the full article from POST here.
Photo: Teddy Miller
Your 2022 Hiking Horoscope
2022 is the year we’ve all been waiting for. Did you take advantage of all the outdoor opportunities you could last year? If not, this could be your year to turn things around. And if you did – maybe you’ll discover a new adventure, or see places well-traveled in a new light. Keep reading to find what may become your outdoor destiny for 2022.
A New Year for Open Space
Staff Spotlight: Meet Linda Kwong
Linda Kwong, Real Property Program Manager at the Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority, serves a purpose critical for any kind of large-scale conservation effort -- “I buy property,” Linda puts it simply.
Winter, Wetlands, and Waterfowl
Winter is a critical time for wildlife. Competition is high and resources are low. With minimal vegetation and unforgiving temperatures (by California standards), wildlife must successfully stay warm by finding shelter and food. As the changing climate makes seasonal weather less and less predictable, local wetlands become critical places for shorebirds, seabirds, and waterfowl to survive the cold months.
Honoring Dr. King's Environmental Legacy
Martin Luther King Jr. Day is celebrated the third Monday each January in recognition of Dr. King’s incredible life and legacy as a civil rights leader. Many are aware of Dr. King’s lifelong pursuit of equal rights, but did you know the impact of his work continues to this day through the environmental justice movement?
County Actions Safeguard Coyote Valley Farmland and Open Space
On December 14, the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to strengthen protections for Coyote Valley’s natural and working lands. Amendments to the County's General Plan, zoning ordinance, and zoning map will protect important resources in Mid- and South Coyote Valley to safeguard local food production and climate benefits.
Winter Wildlife: Burrowing Owls
What lives underground and hisses to fend off predators? If you were thinking of a snake, then the burrowing owl succeeded in its goal (and our picture above must not have loaded...)! Sharing semi-arid climates with squirrels, rattlesnakes, and more has led this unique bird to develop some interesting adaptations, including that particular defense mechanism. Life on ground-level is no easy endeavor for these little ones, though they seem to make it look that way.
Virtually every preserve, reserve, or open space with a trail network open to the public will likely experience the phenomenon known as social trails. If you are an avid hiker, odds are you’ve seen one, even if you didn’t have a name for it.
Local Land Use Decisions Represent Bold Climate Actions
“We need to protect Coyote Valley from future development if we want to maintain our already diminishing wildlife habitat, protect our groundwater and agriculture and see our children grow up in a world that still has access to nature and its benefits.” – Assemblymember Ash Kalra
San José City Council Unanimously Approves the Permanent Protection of Coyote Valley
San José Mayor, Councilmembers, and environmental advocates celebrate expansion of lands protected in Coyote Valley
San José Mayor Sam Liccardo and Councilmembers Sergio Jimenez (D 2), David Cohen (D4), and Pam Foley (D9) and the Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority were joined by environmental advocates, Charlene Nijmeh of the Muwekma Ohlone Tribe of the San Francisco Bay Area, and community partners to celebrate the unanimous City Council vote to approve zoning changes to Coyote Valley that will protect it from urban sprawl. Now, over 3,200 acres of land in Coyote Valley are protected for agriculture, recreation, and tourism uses and spared from the expansion of office and industrial development in the area, preserving it for future generations.
Board of Directors Pass Resolution Recognizing Native American Heritage Month
A message from General Manager Andrea Mackenzie:
On Thursday, October 28, the Open Space Authority Board of Directors passed a resolution recognizing November as Native American Heritage Month.
Seven Holiday Meal Tips for the Eco-Conscious
The holidays...time for family, friends, and – most importantly – FOOD!
Staff Spotlight: Meet Galli Basson
The peregrine falcon – one of the most common birds of prey – is the fastest animal on earth. Not often can this raptor, which can fly over 200 mph, be seen steady, up close. It’s no wonder that when Galli saw an injured one in the ornithology center at U.C. Davis, it changed everything for her. What had been a random exploration of U.C. Davis’ undergraduate department course offerings, with one glance into a peregrine’s eyes became a lifelong passion for the natural world. “That was it. I was hooked.”
The Hay of South Bay
Did you know that hay is a valuable food source for livestock? In the South Bay, hay is one of the most common crops grown by local farmers.
Sixty Acres of Prime Farmland Protected in Coyote Valley
Open Space Authority Protects 60 Acres for Sustainable Agriculture
Sixty acres of prime farmland are now protected at Laguna Avenue and Santa Teresa Boulevard in the middle of Coyote Valley - also known as Mid Coyote Valley. With this latest addition to Coyote Valley’s growing network of protected lands, the Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority (the Authority) is working to establish sustainable, local climate-smart agricultural practices within the Coyote Valley Conservation Program Area.
Tips for Outdoor Earthquake Preparedness
In California, earthquakes can happen at any time. In Santa Clara County, all residents live within a 10-mile radius of the San Andreas, Calaveras, and Hayward fault lines. This means being earthquake ready is essential - whether you’re at home, at work, or out on a hike.
Celebrating SB-790 to Protect Wildlife Connectivity
The Open Space Authority is pleased to celebrate a recent victory that enhances wildlife corridors and highlights their value to the public across the state. On Friday, October 8, Governor Gavin Newsom signed Senate Bill No. 790 (SB 790) which builds upon existing framework to ensure wildlife can access adequate habitat to promote healthy populations and build resiliency against the effects of climate change.
Indigenous People’s Day – Monday, October 11, 2021
A message from General Manager Andrea Mackenzie:
We stand in solidarity as we celebrate, recognize, and honor the beautiful languages, traditions, and contributions of Indigenous Peoples here in Santa Clara Valley and beyond.
The Fall Crawl
Welcome to spooky season! ‘Tis the season for scary movies, haunted houses, and ghost stories, so we thought it fitting to talk about one of the (seemingly) spookiest critters found at our open space preserves this time of year – tarantulas. September and October is the best time for viewing as they leave their burrows for mating season - just in time for Halloween.
So what better time to pull back the curtain and make these creepy-crawlies a bit less creepy?
Urban Open Space Corner: JUNTOS Initiative
In December 2020, the Santa Clara County Public Health Department (SCCPHD) received a $100,000 grant from the Open Space Authority’s Urban Grant Program for their project, the JUNTOS Initiative. This initiative, supported by partnership between healthcare providers and park and environmental organizations, is focused on making the outdoors more inclusive and accessible to the community. As October celebrates Binational Health Month, the SCCPHD has some outdoor events on the horizon.
Seven Reasons to Watch our Discovering Coyote Valley webinar series
Didn’t get a chance to watch our Discovering Coyote Valley webinar series live? It’s not too late to join in on the fun and learn about the past, present, and future of this landscape.
Bird Bonanza 2021!
You’ve heard of March Madness... Now get ready for BIRD BONANZA!
Did you know that fall is one of the best times of year for birdwatching? So, join us this month for a birding-themed bracket to discover which species is the true fan favorite – while learning about native California birds!
Community-Focused Climate Resilience Project Receives $16 Million
Protection of North Coyote Valley Floodplain to Reduce Downstream Flood Risks in Urban San José
San José, CA - In September 2021, the Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority (the Authority) received multiple funding awards totaling over $16 million from the State of California for the protection of North Coyote Valley open space lands. $6 million in funding comes from an Urban Flood Protection grant from the California Natural Resources Agency, and $10 million has been allocated by the California Legislature in SB-170, the Budget Act of 2021.
The Secret Lives of Squirrels
Squirrels are highly adaptable, charismatic, and all-around tough species. If you live, or grew up in Santa Clara Valley, chances are you have your own story about an experience with these artful, bushytailed rodents. Though some view squirrels as pests, these nimble, curious critters play a major role in regulating their ecosystems. For those who are less than appreciative of their presence, learning about their vibrant lives and complex social interactions might just inspire a bit more interest in these seemingly inconspicuous creatures.
A Struggling Icon: Western Monarchs Return to the Coast
Did you know monarchs are one of the few butterfly species known to make a two-way migration - just like birds? Each fall, Western monarch butterflies travel from their summer breeding spots to overwintering locations along the Pacific coast where they live for six to nine months. Remarkably, they return to the same groves of trees each year, and California is the only place in the United States that regularly hosts awe-inspiring sights of monarchs clustered together for the winter.
Drought got you bummed? Save Water & Money With These Tips
On July 8, 2021, the State of California declared a state of emergency in response to climate change and worsening drought conditions.
As of August 19, the U.S. Drought monitor reported that Santa Clara County is facing extreme drought. With the county’s water shortage emergency making national news headlines, you are not alone if you’re experiencing eco-anxiety.
But there is hope amid this climate crisis. Through small, everyday actions we can all help protect our water supply - and (bonus) you’ll save money while doing it!
Keep reading to learn how you can make every drop count, and how the Open Space Authority works to protect and restore water resources.
Drought Resilience Through Restoration
In June 2021, the Open Space Authority released the Coyote Valley Water Resource Investment Strategy (CVWRIS) report. The report was developed in partnership with Valley Water, detailing the water resource impacts of large-scale restoration projects in Coyote Valley, just south of San José.
Zimmerman: Our underappreciated open spaces (San José Spotlight)
“Disruption of nature and natural systems by humans is a major part of the climate crisis. But nature is part of the solution.”
This is what Andrea Mackenzie, the general manager of the Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority, told me in an interview earlier this year.
Read the full article from San José Spotlight here.
Coyote Valley Conservation Lands Network Grows with Historic Ranch Purchase
On August 9th, the Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority (the Authority), in partnership with the Peninsula Open Space Trust (POST), finalized the $5 million purchase of the historic Tilton Ranch Complex. The 60-acre parcel, which includes residential and operational buildings at the heart of the ranch, completes the protection of this historic and environmentally important property. Other supporting partners include Santa Clara County Parks and Recreation Department and Santa Clara Valley Habitat Agency. The partners acquired and protected 1,861 acres of Tilton Ranch in October 2020.
Coyote Valley is Yours: Help Us Plan Its Future
The last decade brought many changes to the trajectory of Coyote Valley, and the Authority and its partners are excited to begin engaging with residents in developing a Coyote Valley Conservation Areas Master Plan. Premiering this September is an exciting three-part educational webinar series titled "Discover Coyote Valley" to help introduce people to this unique landscape and spread the word about how to get involved.
Staff Spotlight: Meet Nick Perry
“This is why I went into city planning. This is what I hoped to do.”
A link to the past, a symbol in the present, and an opportunity for the future - Coyote Valley tells a story. Nick Perry, Coyote Valley Project Manager at the Open Space Authority, is among those who know this best.
Santa Clara Valley Wildlife Olympics
As the world watches the Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo, we are celebrating our own version of the Olympics closer to home. Welcome to the Santa Clara Valley Wildlife Olympics 2021!
Discovering Coyote Valley: A Three-Part Webinar Series
The Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority is launching a three-part educational webinar series, Discovering Coyote Valley, to tell the story of this last-chance landscape and raise awareness about the Coyote Valley Conservation Areas Master Plan for these protected lands.
Five Benefits to Protecting Coyote Valley
Coyote Valley is a rural landscape located at the southern edge of San José, California in Santa Clara County. Due to its location and natural resources, Coyote Valley has long been a place where human and natural communities intersect. The long-term vision is to make Coyote Valley a landscape for all, forever. Check out the list below to learn some of the benefits of protecting these lands.
Urban Open Space Corner: Keep Coyote Creek Beautiful
In September of 2020, Keep Coyote Creek Beautiful (KCCB) was awarded a $37,701 grant from the Open Space Authority's Urban Grant Program for their Community and Virtual BioBlitz Events. Now, in 2021, these projects are in full swing.
White-Tailed Kite: A Conservation Success Story
With scientists warning that humanity is causing the sixth mass-extinction of Earth’s history, it’s not often we hear uplifting stories about the success of an endangered species. And more seldom do such stories take place right in our own backyard. This is the case, however, for the white-tailed kite, a once highly endangered bird – and even locally extinct, in some areas. Much to our excitement, the white-tailed kite is defying the odds and making quite the resurgence in Santa Clara Valley.
Peninsula Open Space Trust and the Open Space Authority Take New Approach to restoring Coyote Valley's Watershed
Updated on Thursday, July 15, 2021
In 2020, severely dry conditions resulted in yet another record-shattering fire year across the West. Amid rising summer temperatures, California’s rapidly shrinking water supply reveals an urgent need to address the State’s worsening drought, a side effect of our warming climate. It also draws attention to local water management practices, and the importance of groundwater as a water source during droughts. Together, Peninsula Open Space Trust (POST) and the Open Space Authority are monitoring local drought conditions and using nature-based solutions like groundwater monitoring to help inform floodplain and habitat restoration projects to help make drought impacts less severe.
Equity Lens: July 2021
The Open Space Authority is committed to the values of inclusion and equity in every facet of our work. We recognize this is a life-long effort, without a beginning or an end. It includes short-term and long-term goals, and our first step is listening to the community and reflecting upon our own practices and systems of work. From here, we will reflect on the ways that we engage in larger systems and structures within our community, both positive and negative, to identify and inform meaningful actions and change.
Leave No Trace This Summer As You Enjoy the Outdoors
With summer upon us, who wouldn’t want to get outside and enjoy some sunshine?
The Authority Awarded Certificate of Excellence for Transparency
On Friday, June 18th, the Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority received the District Transparency Certificate of Excellence by the Special District Leadership Foundation (SDLF) in recognition of its outstanding efforts to promote transparency and good governance.
Conservation of Coyote Valley Gaining Momentum
To continue the momentum of protecting Coyote Valley for years to come, Open Space Authority is now managing two new properties in Mid-Coyote Valley in partnership with Peninsula Open Space Trust (POST).
Warm Weather Guide
Longer days and warmer weather make spring and summer some of the best times of year to enjoy the outdoors!
Before heading outside this season, check out these warm weather outdoor tips to help you have safe and enjoyable experiences in nature all season long:
Summer in the Preserves
Summer 2021 may feel a bit more special than most, and what better way to enjoy it than celebrating what’s been here for us throughout these uncertain times: our open spaces!
Open Space Authority Celebrates Pride Month
Resolution Declares Open Spaces Are Welcoming, Inclusive Outdoor Spaces for All
Nature is a sanctuary for humans in a stressed and challenged world. Nature is a place for peaceful contemplation and connection when it’s hard to find elsewhere. Nature is a place of comfort and acceptance in an increasingly binary, polarized, and divided nation. This past year as we experienced the COVID-19 pandemic, we saw tremendous public desire and demand by Santa Clara County’s diverse communities for access to nearby parks and open spaces for all the physical and mental benefits that time in nature provides.
How to attract Birds to your backyard
When trying to attract birds to your home creating a habitat that serves their basic needs is essential. Food, water, and shelter are key but aren’t the only variables you need to consider. While these satisfy their physiological needs, birds also prefer a safe space where they can socialize freely. That’s why we reached out to the birdwatching experts from Vancouver to New York to provide you with a few creative ways to attract birds to your home.
Community Connections: Tim Oey
If you’re on the road and see a bicyclist towing a trailer loaded with up to 650 pounds of supplies, there’s a good chance that it’s Tim Oey, Events Manager at Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition (SVBC), on his way to work. Or the grocery store, or the doctor’s office, or a community event, or really anywhere else one might think to travel. That’s part of Oey’s biking philosophy: “anywhere, anytime, any kind of weather, any day.”
Asian Americans for Community Involvement: Leaders in Health and Advocacy
The concept of “health” is broad, and it is sometimes complex. When considering what being “healthy” means, we often think of physical health: good nutrition, regular doctor’s visits and exercise; everything in order. However, mental and spiritual health, while often overlooked, are equally as important. Asian Americans for Community Involvement (AACI) recognizes this, and they are making a big difference in the lives of their community members.
10 Tips For Starting Your Own Garden
You don’t need a big backyard to grow your own food. What you do need, however, is patience, a bit of resilience, and according to most everyone we talked to, forgiveness. We gathered insights from a few of our staff members and garden-based grantees to help guide you through creating a garden of your own.
In Acknowledgement of Earth Day
Biological altruism is a phenomenon that causes plant and animal species to behave in a manner that helps another organism, even at the cost of their own well-being. While experts are still theorizing exactly what motivates this behavior, a common perception is that, especially among species with complex social structures, these instances of helping another organism will ultimately benefit that which provides the help. Protecting and assisting other organisms helps to make all organisms thrive because the actions of one will impact another; because we are all connected.
The Equity Lens: April 2021
In response to the intolerable acts of violence and racial injustices against people of color, and the ongoing COVID-19 global health and climate crises, we at the Open Space Authority have made a long-term commitment to ensure that the values of inclusion and equity are reflected in every facet of our work. This is life-long work that does not have a beginning and an end but rather will involve short-term and long-term goals. We have started by taking a step back, listening to the community, and looking inwards at our own practices and systems of work. From here, we will reflect on the ways that we are engaging in larger systems and structures in our community, including those that are both positive and negative, and identify how we can turn our commitment to these values into meaningful actions and change.
Urban Open Space Corner: Our City Forest
In 2015, Our City Forest, a non-profit organization dedicated to creating a healthy Silicon Valley through the promotion of urban forestry, acquired a parcel of land at Martial Cottle Park and created an outdoor urban forestry education center and arboretum, the Outdoor Educational Center.
The Monarch Butterfly's Mysterious Decline: What You Can Do to Help
Just over twenty years ago, Monarch butterflies, one of the most charismatic and widely recognized butterfly species, lived in abundance across the United States. Often symbolizing spirituality and hope, these creatures have long been a source of wonder among us and, at the same time, have been a great source of mystery. With complex and largely unknown migratory patterns, unique life cycles, and elusiveness around humans, Monarchs have intrigued researchers for years. At the start of this year, that intrigue mounted. What once was a yearly population count in excess of 1.2 million towards the turn of the century, has since dropped to a far lower threshold of roughly 30,000. Following this already concerning decline, the 2020 count was much worse than anyone could have anticipated: a staggering 1,914 butterflies.
The Open Space Authority Stands in Solidarity with the Asian American Community
We at the Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority stand in solidarity with the Asian American community and collectively grieve the lives lost and lives impacted in recent attacks and hate crimes across the country.
New Report Advances Authority's Priority for Protecting Grasslands
Grasslands across North America are declining rapidly and with them, grassland birds, which are declining at a higher rate than any other group of birds across the continent. California is home to a considerable amount of grassland and oak savanna ecosystems, two of which – Sierra Vista and Diablo Foothills – are managed by the Authority. These habitats are of high ecological value, as they support a variety of rare and common bird species and contain healthy soil. Stewarding what’s left of these habitats must be an absolute priority. Monitoring these landscapes to maintain their well-being is a way to evaluate our stewardship practices.
Cities of the Future: New Report Highlights Green Urban Planning
The impacts of climate change are intensifying rapidly and as populations continue to grow, there is an increasing need to make our cities more adaptable to the needs of the future.
A Beginner’s Guide to Hiking
Outdoor activities provide opportunities to spend time with loved ones, appreciate nature, and get some healthy exercise. If you’re new to hiking, this guide from the Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority can help get you started (ESPAÑOL | TIẾNG VIỆT).
California and U.S. Executive Orders Set 30 by 30 Climate Goals
Last year was certainly challenging, in more ways than any of us could have anticipated. But, Governor Newsom’s recent Executive Order N-82-20, now referred to as 30 by 30, is one reason to be optimistic about the future of our planet’s climate.
Fire and Regrowth at Diablo Foothills
Once a month, celebrate #OpenSpaceTransformationTuesday to see how we are transforming Santa Clara Valley’s natural spaces into beautifully restored, healthy landscapes.
Nearly eight months after the Crews Fire burned entirely through the Open Space Authority’s Diablo Foothills preserve, we are seeing new life appear yet again.
A New Era for Laguna Seca
After over a century of disruption and human development, Laguna Seca, San Jose’s largest remaining freshwater wetland, is one step closer to becoming more like the productive wetland it was in the past. Where the Laguna Seca was once completely dry, we are seeing the groundwater levels rise once again.
Community Connections - Matthew Dodder
Community Connections highlights the many leaders, partners, and neighbors who make a difference in our community. This month we are featuring Matthew Dodder, Executive Director of the Santa Clara Valley Audubon Society.
New Life at Fisher’s Bend
There are new projects taking root along Fisher Creek in Coyote Valley!
Community Connections - Luis Gaytan
Community Connections highlights the many leaders, partners, and neighbors who make a difference in our community. This month we are featuring Luis Gaytan, farmer and owner of G&G Farms in Coyote Valley.
Open Space Authority Urban Grant Program Awards over $875,000
San Jose, CA (December 11, 2020) - The Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority’s Board of Directors has awarded over $875,000 in Measure Q grant funding to 10 organizations as part of the 2020 cycle of the Urban Grant Program. Funding a variety of projects, including environmental education on the topics of food and agriculture, as well as environmental stewardship, the Urban Grant Program focuses on providing access to nature within the urban areas of the Authority’s jurisdiction.
The Equity Lens - December 2020
In response to the intolerable acts of violence and racial injustices against people of color, and the ongoing COVID-19 global health and climate crises, we at the Open Space Authority made a long-term commitment to inclusion and equity in every facet of our work. To work towards our larger goal, we began an initiative to first look outward and listen to the community, and then inward, to reflect on our current practices in the structure and procedures of the organization, and to identify opportunities to improve upon them.
Community Connections - Ivette López
Community Connections highlights the many leaders, partners, and neighbors who make a difference in our community. This month we are featuring Ivette López, who works in Visitor Services for the US Fish & Wildlife Service National Wildlife Refuge System, Pacific Southwest Region.
Open Space Authority’s Measure T Approved by Voters
Measure T, the Open Space, Wildlife Habitat, Clean Water, and Increased Public Access Measure, has been passed by 81% of voters and has secured funding for the Open Space Authority to protect open spaces for future generations. Thanks to you, the voters, we can renew our commitment to investing in nature in communities and providing Santa Clara Valley residents with more equitable access to nature while stewarding our beautiful open spaces forever.
The Season of Gratitude at the Open Space Authority
With Thanksgiving right around the corner, now is as good a time as any to take a minute to reflect on everything we have to be grateful for, whether it’s nature or family, food or shelter, or simply the air we breathe.
Community Connections - Jacky Rivera
Community Connections highlights the many leaders, partners, and neighbors who make a difference in our community. This month we are featuring Jacky Rivera, Organizing Manager for Sacred Heart Community Service’s La Mesa Verde program.
Frantoio Grove Agricultural Conservation Easement
In the San Martin region of Santa Clara County sits Frantoio Grove, a family-owned and operated specialty olive oil company that just turned 15 years old. The 30-acre grove is part of a roughly 97-acre property that is now permanently protected for agriculture through an Agricultural Conservation Easement (ACE). The land, initially anticipated to become a subdivision development, will now remain productive farmland and protected from development.
Nature’s Recovery and Resilience
By Andrea Mackenzie, General Manager
On August 16, 2020, a thunderstorm that produced thousands of lightning strikes ignited a series of fires in San Mateo and Santa Cruz counties that merged to become the CZU Lightning Complex Fire, burning 86,509 acres in the Santa Cruz Mountains, destroying 1,490 structures, and causing extensive damage to protected natural areas and historic resources in Big Basin State Park, Butano State Park, and San Vicente Redwoods.
Connecting Communities and Mental Health to Nature
World Mental Health day, created by the World Health Organization to increase awareness and education about mental health, is approaching once again on October 10th and is particularly relevant today in our masked, 6-feet-apart world.
Acquisition of Tilton Ranch Complex Expands Greater Coyote Valley Vision
On October 6th, the Santa Clara Valley Habitat Agency, Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority, and the Peninsula Open Space Trust (POST) announced the purchase of 1,861-acre Tilton Ranch, one of the county’s largest remaining working ranches. This significant land conservation deal dramatically expands the network of protected lands in the greater Coyote Valley benefitting people and wildlife alike.
Open Space Authority Funds New Projects to Connect Communities to Nature
“Who do you serve?”
With concerted efforts to provide equitable access to nature for the Authority’s entire jurisdiction, this question was one asked frequently throughout the review process for the 2019-2020 cycle of the Open Space Authority’s Urban Grant Program.
Urban Grant Program Awards over $200,000 in Measure Q Funds
San Jose, CA (September 28, 2020) - The Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority’s Board of Directors has awarded $206,324 in Measure Q grant funding to five nonprofits and a school district as part of the Small Grants category for the 2020 cycle of the Urban Grant Program. The Urban grants fund a variety of programming, including environmental education on the topics of food and agriculture, as well as environmental stewardship, with the goal of providing access to nature within the urban areas.
Understanding our Community and Improving Access to Open Space
The COVID-19 pandemic has simultaneously raised awareness of the need urban residents have for access to nature and open spaces, while also highlighting the great disparities in our society related to that access to nature, and as well, related to access to health care, rate of disease, and life expectancy. Now, more than ever, organizations have a responsibility to better understand the health needs of the communities they serve and make a significant positive impact by providing ways for people to live healthier lives.
The newly released report, Understanding Our Community Phase II, is the latest step in the Authority’s long-term commitment to serve its diverse community in a meaningful and sustainable way.
Inspiring Conservation: General Manager Andrea Mackenzie Named One of 2020’s “Women of Influence”
Earlier this year, the Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority’s General Manager, Andrea Mackenzie, was named as one of the top 2020 “Women of Influence” by the Silicon Valley Business Journal.
Community Connections - Ada Márquez
Community Connections highlights the many leaders, partners, and neighbors who make a difference in our community. This month we are featuring Ada Márquez, Open Space Authority and Santa Clara Valley Audubon Society volunteer and environmental studies faculty at San Jose State University.
Better Access for All: Coyote Valley Trail Improvements
Coyote Valley Open Space Preserve offers visitors a broad range of outdoor activities, with opportunities for hiking, bird and wildlife watching, mountain biking, and horseback riding.
A new trail improvement seeks to make this preserve easier to access for all visitors, including those with strollers and wheelchairs, while giving people more access to scenic outlooks and interpretive signage sharing the preserve’s natural history.
Open Space Authority and Peninsula Open Space Trust Complete Purchase of 235 Acres in North Coyote Valley
$16 Million Acquisition Finalizes Protection of 937 Acres with Support from California’s Wildlife Conservation Board and State Coastal Conservancy
Community Planning Process Launches Today with Online Questionnaire
SAN JOSÉ, Calif. (August 3, 2020) – Today, Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority (the Authority) and Peninsula Open Space Trust (POST) announced the completed purchase of a 235-acre parcel in the North Coyote Valley Conservation Area.
Urban Open Space Corner: A New Opportunity to Take BART to Open Space
More than 30 years ago, local open space advocates came up with a vision for a vast trail network that would connect all the ridges around the San Francisco Bay from Sonoma to Santa Clara Counties, into one continuous 550-mile long trail. Over the following decades, this momentous vision that came to be known as the Bay Area Ridge Trail sprang to life, as trail segments managed by various parks and open space districts were added to the map. The trail is now 70% complete with more than 380 miles of scenic ridge-top trails, overlooking every corner of the Bay.
But over the years there’s been one crucial element missing - linkages to the Bay Area’s major transit providers, including BART.
How to Enjoy the Night Sky from Home
Warm summer nights are here, one of the best times of year to enjoy astronomy!
To get some tips for exploring the night sky, we talked with Swami Nigam, one of the Directors of the San Jose Astronomical Association (SJAA). SJAA is a long-time partner of the Authority, co-hosting many events over the last decade or more, including the regular “Starry Nights” nighttime outings at Rancho Cañada del Oro.
Restoring Essential Creekside Habitat at Fisher’s Bend
Crucial habitat conservation work often starts in the same way - by hauling away lots and lots of trash!
Last month, work began on the Fisher Creek Restoration Project, a multi-phase effort to restore a key segment of riparian habitat on the Fisher’s Bend property.
In society, as in nature, diversity is a strength
In society, as in nature, diversity is a strength.
Santa Clara County and Authority Approve $5M Funding Agreement to Preserve Agricultural Land
In a time where appreciating and protecting our working lands is more important than ever, the Open Space Authority (Authority) is honored to announce that the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors has approved a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Authority that facilitates a one-time allocation of $4.9M for the purchase of agricultural conservation easements in the Coyote Valley and San Martin areas. The MOU builds on a strong partnership between the County and Authority in developing the Santa Clara Valley Agricultural Plan (Ag Plan).
Urban Open Space Corner: Restoring the Alviso Adobe and Saving Santa Clara Valley History
Driving north along Piedmont Road along the suburban east hills of Milpitas you might not know that an important part of local history is right in your midst.
Best Paved Trails in Santa Clara County
Everyone in our community deserves access to nature, regardless of age or physical mobility. Local families want to share the outdoors with friends and all the people they love. Spending time outside can help reduce stress and allow people to reflect, relax, and reset - health benefits that should be available to all.
As part of its core mission, the Open Space Authority is always looking for opportunities to make our open space preserves more accessible by providing paved trail segments with easy access to parking areas, and by awarding Urban Grants to fund urban and neighborhood trail expansions and accessibility improvements.
Community Connections - Anna Pascual
Community Connections highlights the many leaders, partners, and neighbors who make a difference in our community. This month we are featuring Anna Pascual, Educational Outreach Coordinator at the Wildlife Education and Rehabilitation Center (W.E.R.C.), an organization that provides rehabilitation services for orphaned, injured, and sick native wildlife.
Urban Open Space Corner: Guadalupe River Park Conservancy Builds Green Gateway to San Jose
One day soon, when you are driving on Highway-87 past downtown San Jose, you’ll see bright rows of California poppies pointing the way to Guadalupe River Park & Gardens.
A new project, organized by the nonprofit Guadalupe River Park Conservancy and funded in part by $27,009 from the Open Space Authority’s Urban Grant Program, is working to both beautify this city park and clarify the boundaries with attractive and wildlife-friendly split rail wooden fencing, new signage, and native wildflowers.
Appreciating Agriculture: Now More Than Ever
As part of its core mission, the Open Space Authority works to protect not only natural areas, but also our region’s incredible agricultural lands and their heritage. The Authority is committed to partnering with the Santa Clara Valley agricultural community to conserve and steward these invaluable working lands and their many essential benefits, so that they can support all of us.
Community Connections - Richard Tejeda
Community Connections highlights the many leaders, partners, and neighbors who make a difference in our community. This month we are featuring Richard Tejeda, Founder and Executive Director of Saved By Nature, a San Jose-based nonprofit organization focused on changing lives through nature.
Heal Nature, Help Ourselves
If you are having trouble sleeping, focusing, or are feeling anxious, you are not alone.
In a recent national poll, 77% of American women and 66% of men surveyed reported feeling increased personal stress. Worries about the possibility of getting sick, potentially losing a job or business, and managing finances, paired with the new tensions and challenges of sheltering in place, it’s no surprise that we are feeling overwhelmed.
Open Space During COVID-19
Nature and open space are here for you.
During this time of global uncertainty caused by COVID-19, outdoor open spaces offer a refuge for reducing stress, anxiety, and anger while improving mental and physical wellness.
Community Connections - Tanya Diamond
Community Connections highlights the many leaders, partners, and neighbors who make a difference in our community. This month we are featuring Tanya Diamond, wildlife ecologist and co-principal of Pathways for Wildlife, a research firm that specializes in identifying, monitoring, and implementing connectivity designs for wildlife movement within our communities.
Celebrating Native Species on California Wildlife Day
Did you know that California has an official a state holiday to celebrate wildlife?
California Wildlife Day was established in 2017 to recognize our state’s diverse and unique ecosystem. This holiday is celebrated each year on the Spring Equinox, or March 21 in 2020, around the time when many native animals emerge from hibernation and migratory species return home.
Urban Open Space Corner: Santa Clara County Food System Alliance Works to Save Small Silicon Valley Farms
A new report by the Santa Clara County Food System Alliance is making the case that farming is both economically feasible and a crucial part of our community and economy.
Helping Reptiles and Amphibians Move Through Coyote Valley
To guide our efforts in restoring and conserving open space, the Open Space Authority regularly supports research to help understand local wildlife and how they live in and move across landscapes. There have been extensive efforts to understand mammal movement in one of the Authority’s priority conservation areas, Coyote Valley, but less attention has been paid to how other critical threatened species use and move through this landscape. Until now...
5 Trails We Love
Valentine’s Day is typically celebrated with candy, chocolate, and cards, but this year consider enjoying time with each other outdoors while sharing your love for the natural environment.
Saving San Jose’s Largest Remaining Wetland
Did you know that one of the Bay Area's biggest freshwater wetlands lies right in San Jose's backyard? While this vitally important landscape, called Laguna Seca, has faced threat of development and drainage over the years, the wetland has been permanently protected, thanks to the recent purchase of 937 acres in North Coyote Valley. Now, the Open Space Authority and local partners are planning to restore Laguna Seca.
Local Students Plant a Hedgerow to Help an Organic Farm
What do you get when you bring two buses of enthusiastic elementary school students to an Open Space Authority agricultural property? Environmental restoration on an epic scale!
Urban Open Space Corner: New Funding Helps San Jose Expand Parks and Low-Income Housing
While the Open Space Authority always works to protect and promote open space, one program is letting the agency do this while helping the City of San Jose address its growing housing crisis.
Over $1.7 million awarded for Open Space Conservation and Public Access Projects
It’s a wonderful day for open space: three Open Space Authority projects have been awarded a total of $1,779,394 through the Priority Conservation Area (PCA) Grant Program!
5 New Year’s Resolutions That Will Improve Your Environmental Wellness
As the new year lies ahead of us, we’ve been thinking about ways we can make positive changes for ourselves and our natural environment this year.
Season’s (Green) Greetings: How to Celebrate Sustainably this Holiday Season
'Tis the season to celebrate the holidays with family and friends! We can all enjoy this time with loved ones while also taking care of the planet. Here are some of our favorite ways to be eco-friendly during the holidays.
Urban Open Space Corner: Veggielution’s “Roots Down” Program is Growing Into the Future
“We need to connect with people who haven’t come here yet to see what they want and need”
For San Jose-based community farm, Veggielution, growing food is what they do best, but determining how they grow their organization is their latest endeavor.
High School Students Lend a Hand to Protect Open Space
“Letting us get out into the environment just lets us be grateful for what we have as well as bonding with other people and appreciating our environment around us.” ”
This October, more than 200 students from San Jose’s Harker School hit the trails at Rancho Cañada del Oro Open Space Preserve to perform important seasonal trail maintenance work while learning about our natural environment and enjoying the outdoors.
Learning How Bobcats Move Through Coyote Valley
In the wake of rapid urban growth, Bay Area environmentalists have long been fighting to maintain our region’s essential wildlife habitats. Protecting the traditionally agricultural Coyote Valley is key to maintaining healthy wildlife populations, as this sparsely-developed and agricultural valley connects thousands of acres of habitat in the Santa Cruz and the Diablo mountain ranges.
Seizing a Once-in-a-Generation Opportunity to Preserve San Jose's Last Great Landscape, Coyote Valley
$93.5M investment is first for natural infrastructure protection in California, providing water safeguards for citizens of San Jose and securing critical "last chance" wildlife corridor between mountain ranges.
Community Connections - Artists of Coyote Valley
Community Connections highlights the many leaders, partners, and neighbors who make a difference in our community. This month we are featuring Obi Kaufmann, Donald Neff, and Edward Rooks, three artists finding creative inspiration in Coyote Valley.
Acting Locally to Fight Climate Change
From last month’s youth-led Global Climate Strike, to the sobering new UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports, the issue of climate change has been a steady presence in the news and at the top of mind for many of us recently. Climate change is increasing the frequency, severity, and unpredictability of storms, flooding, drought, and wildfire. As we have seen, the recurring economic and social costs of responding to these disasters are immense. This renewed attention couldn’t come soon enough as climate experts warn that time is running out to take action.
Celebrate Fall in the Santa Clara Valley!
Every evening, the sun slips behind the Santa Cruz Mountain Range a bit earlier. Shorter days and golden, parched hills mean autumn has arrived in the Santa Clara Valley.
With the fall harvest, colorful leaves, and wildlife spotting opportunities, this is one of the best times of year to get outside! Here are some of our favorite ways to experience fall in the Santa Clara Valley.
Nature: A Prescription for Mental Health
Getting outdoors is not only good for your body - it's also good for your mind!
Each October 10 we recognize World Mental Health Day, designated by the United Nations World Health Organization to raise awareness of mental health issues and promote efforts to improve mental health around the world.
Ag Plan Receives Top Award from American Planning Association
Santa Clara County, CA (Sept. 17, 2019) - The Santa Clara Valley Agricultural Plan (Ag Plan) has been selected by the American Planning Association (APA) California Chapter as the winner of the statewide 2019 Innovation in Green Community Planning Award of Excellence. The award honors efforts to create more sustainable and green communities that reduce impacts on the natural environment and improves environmental quality.
Open Space Authority Volunteers Bring Nature to the Community
“Welcome! Bienvenido! 歡迎! Chào mừng!”
Recognizable by a cheery yellow banner inviting visitors in four languages, the Open Space Authority’s community outreach booth is hard to miss, drawing in neighbors young and old to learn about nature at local festivals and events.
Urban Open Space Corner: La Mesa Verde Builds Community Through Gardening
“We see the garden as a vehicle for social change...It helps to know you are connected and part of something.”
In the face of local food insecurity, Sacred Heart Community Service is providing families with a sustainable source of fresh, nutritious food through their Authority-funded home gardening project, La Mesa Verde.
Restoring Habitat for Rare Amphibians at Coyote Ridge
Over the years, loss of habitat has caused the decline of many amphibian species, including our native frogs and salamanders. However, in the midst of decreasing habitat, ranch lands have become a vital aide for conservation of rare amphibians because they remain undeveloped and wildlife rely on the many ponds that ranchers have built for their herds over the years.
Community Connections - Luís Urias
Community Connections highlights the many leaders, partners, and neighbors who make a difference in our community. This month we are featuring Luís Urias, a vegetable farmer currently working the land at the Open Space Authority’s Pajaro River Agricultural Preserve.
Public Access Project Kicks Off for Coyote Ridge Open Space Preserve
We are very excited to announce the launch of our Coyote Ridge Open Space Preserve Public Use and Access Plan!
Urban Open Space Corner: Watershed in a Box - Keep Coyote Creek Beautiful
“I love those ‘a-ha moments,’ when someone learns something new and sees an opportunity to take action”
One local organization is taking conservation lessons inspired by the 64-mile long Coyote Creek, part of Santa Clara Valley’s largest watershed, and bringing them to the community in a unique way.
Join us for Palassou Ridge Public-Access Weekend this August
This summer, the Open Space Authority will be opening up the currently by-reservation-only Palassou Ridge preserve just north of Gilroy to members of the public for walking and horseback riding (stayed tuned for a mountain biking-only access day this fall!).
The preserve offers 12 miles of trails to explore at your own pace!
- Animals of the Pride Flag
- Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority Awards over $910K for Local Environmental Programming during 30th Anniversary Year
- One-way Trails: Why Have Them?
- Behind-the-Scenes at Máyyan ‘Ooyákma Coyote Ridge (Spring 2023)
- Staff Spotlight - Meet Jackie
- Farmer's Market Guide to the Santa Clara Valley
- Why Become an Open Space Authority Volunteer?
- The Future of Agriculture
- 30 Open Spaces We Love
- Helen Chapman fights to save San Jose’s open space