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.
“The Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority is thrilled that SB 790 is now law," said Galli Basson, Resource Management Program Manager at the Authority. "Preserving and improving linkages for wildlife to move and adapt to climate change is critically important, especially in areas such as Coyote Valley, immediately to the south of Silicon Valley. We extend our deepest gratitude to co-authors Senator Stern and Senator Cortese for their leadership on this landmark legislation.”
Outlined in the legislation are actions that protect and enhance landscape-level habitat connectivity; emphasizing the importance of creating migratory corridors where wildlife can find food and water, reproduce, respond to natural disasters and severe weather events, and adapt to human development.
Bobcat using a culvert to cross under Highway 101
With the state’s rising population, land use decisions have a significant impact on biodiversity and the ability for wildlife to adapt to climate change. As urban development and sprawl encroaches upon natural and working lands, wildlife habitats become fragmented and even lost altogether. SB 790 allows and incentives the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) to proactively build wildlife crossings as they retrofit existing highway infrastructure.
Wildlife crossings improve climate resilience for wildlife, and allow greater biodiversity between small, fragmented wildlife populations by providing an underpass or an overpass that allows animals to cross from one side of the road to the other. Crossings protect both people and wildlife by giving animals an alternate route to cross busy roads, and by decreasing collisions with automobiles.
Coyote crossing under Highway 156 (Credit: Pathways for Wildlife)
As climate change amplifies stressors on wildlife populations, actions and policies like SB 790 provide critical support for on-the-ground organizations like the Open Space Authority. As we continue protecting natural and working lands like those in Coyote Valley, we strive to protect, support, and advocate for healthy, flourishing ecosystems and wildlife corridors that provide a multitude of benefits for humans and animals alike.