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.

In this 30th year, the Open Space Authority will have conserved 30,000 acres of open space including sixteen agricultural and natural resource conservation easements covering 5,146 acres. In 2023, the Open Space Authority’s network of conserved lands will expand by approximately 5,000 acres at Tilton Ranch, on Coyote Ridge and in the Coyote Valley. The Open Space Authority will also open a new open space preserve to the public in 2023- the 1,831 acre Máyyan 'Ooyákma – Coyote Ridge Open Space Preserve in the Diablo Range overlooking San José, Morgan Hill and the Coyote Valley. We are honored to partner with the Muwekma Ohlone Tribe of the San Francisco Bay Area in the naming of this preserve and to create inclusive educational signage and interpretive programming about this remarkable landscape. 

With this addition, the Open Space Authority’s public trail system will grow to 33 miles across Sierra Vista, Coyote Valley, Coyote Ridge and Rancho Cañada del Oro Open Space Preserves, connecting people to nature through hiking, bicycling, equestrian use, and outdoor educational programs. To make these achievements possible, the Open Space Authority worked hard to leverage its modest voter-approved parcel tax for maximum public benefit, bringing in a total of $154 million of additional outside funding, a dollar-for-dollar match to our Measure Q and Measure T revenues. The Open Space Authority continues strengthening the connection to nature for the Valley’s diverse neighborhoods and communities through awards totaling over $13 million in Urban Open Space Grants to community-based organizations and cities to create local parks, trails, community gardens, and support for multi-lingual environmental education programs.

While we are proud of what this efficient, mission-driven agency has accomplished in its first 30 years for nature and people, our work is not finished and much remains to be done. Our work continues as we protect, connect, and enhance wildlife habitat, support sustainable agriculture, use responsible land stewardship techniques to care for the land, provide meaningful opportunities for everyone to feel welcome to experience and connect with nature, cultivate the next generation of environmental stewards and move closer to defining a master plan to implement a restoration vision for nature and people in the Coyote Valley.

Throughout this special anniversary year, the Open Space Authority will host a series of virtual and in-person community events, and we invite you to join us in celebrating the many accomplishments achieved in partnership with volunteers, partner organizations, funders, and people like you. As we celebrate the expanded access to nature to come and the many people who make this possible, we remind ourselves how important it is for everyone to do their part to protect and respect these precious natural lands, ensure the survival and well-being of threatened and endangered wildlife that call these places home, celebrate and amplify Indigenous voices and stories, and increase access to nature for all people.

And as we increasingly witness the growing impacts of climate change and the large number of species at risk of extinction, we know that we must significantly accelerate actions on multiple fronts to combat climate change and counter biodiversity loss. If we can make significant progress on both of these fronts, we can provide a better future for our children and for their children. We can transform sprawl into smart growth for our cities, making them more livable, while preserving our cherished open spaces for wildlife and climate resilience. We can preserve what we all hold dear, protecting our irreplaceable natural areas so they are there to protect us from climate extremes and for our families to forever enjoy the outdoors. It is a moral imperative on which we must act now. 

Last year, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) released a first-ever joint report that showed climate change and the loss of biodiversity can only be resolved if we address climate and economic issues as one.

That’s why the work of the Open Space Authority across our 1,000 square mile jurisdiction of Santa Clara Valley is integrally linked to urgent climate and biodiversity actions at the state, national and global levels. The Open Space Authority’s work to protect the last viable wildlife linkage connecting the Santa Cruz Mountains to the Diablo Range across the Coyote Valley is being held up as a model for Governor Newsom’s 30 x 30 Executive Order which calls for protecting 30 percent of the state’s natural lands and waters by 2030 and President Biden’s similar 30 x 30 executive order for the nation. And just weeks ago, a landmark global conservation pact was signed in Montreal by 200 countries, committing those countries to work together to protect 30 percent of the planet’s natural lands and waters by 2030.

So what can one agency do to address this existential crisis and meet this moment? In 2023, the Open Space Authority will work with partners to call for an ambitious but achievable goal to accelerate  – even double - the investment that Silicon Valley makes in preserving and restoring nature, our life-support system, as a nature-based solution to climate change. Protecting and restoring nature as infrastructure and as an irreplaceable life-support system is a no-regrets action we can and must take to leave a planet for our children and grandchildren that is beautiful and habitable. Locally, such action intentionally links the health of the Valley of the Hearts Delight (Nature) with the health of Silicon Valley, the epicenter of innovation (People). Now is the time. This is our moment. Join us.

Gratefully,

Andrea Mackenzie
General Manager

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January 04, 2023
For media inquiries contact:

Charlotte Graham

Public Information Officer
cgraham@openspaceauthority.org