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Dear Friends and Colleagues,

As we continue to embark into uncharted territory, I want to extend my gratitude and appreciation to those of you in our community who are fighting this global pandemic to keep our neighbors healthy and safe. Here at the Open Space Authority, the mental and physical health of our community remains our number one priority. And we strongly believe that connecting people to nature and outdoor open spaces is more important than ever.

We know that exercising outdoors and simply being in nature works to improve an individual’s physical, mental, and emotional well-being by reducing stress and promoting a healthy lifestyle. Research shows that spending time in nature can lower the risk of serious and often stress-related illnesses like heart disease and diabetes. And we believe that all our communities deserve the opportunity to enjoy time outdoors, regardless of geographic location, race, or economic status during these trying times.

We are honored that we can share nature with you and offer you a place where you can get some peace and tranquility, but we must all do our part to keep the preserves and parks safe, for our staff, yourself, your family, and your community. If preserve visitors cannot follow the social distancing rules and stay 6 feet apart at all times, our community of parks and open spaces will be forced to close.

Just as our coyote and badger buddies helped each other out in nature, we can help each other by keeping our preserves safe to visit. Here are the ways that you can help:


We need everyone’s help to keep your public lands open during this public health crisis:

  • Public safety should be the top priority.
  • If we can’t keep people safe, parks cannot stay open.
  • Tell your friends and colleagues to help keep our parks open by following the rules.
  • Use #loveyourparks6feetapart to encourage people to follow the rules.


  • Stay closer to home and avoid crowded areas. Visit our preserves – or neighborhood parks and open areas - that are closer to your home. Even explore nature more deeply in your own backyard.
  • Stay 6 feet away from people you do not live with. Share the trail and yield to others to maintain a safe distance or follow the directional signs so everyone hikes the trail in the same direction.
  • Choose less frequented parks and trails. Do not park in a crowded parking lot or use a crowded trail.
  • Examples of safe activities that are allowed solo or with people living in the same household:
    • Hike/walk
    • Bike
    • Sit under a tree - read, write, listen to music, draw
    • Take photos of plants and animals and upload them to the iNaturalist app
  • Do not hold social gatherings at parks or anywhere.
  • Look for nearby nature to enjoy: your own neighborhood might have #hiddennature.
  • Visit nature virtually. See below for programs that the Open Space Authority is offering.


To #keepyourparksopen, follow these rules:

  • Do not visit parks that have been closed by local authorities like the public health department.
  • Many restrooms and facilities are closed; plan ahead before leaving home.
  • Don’t stay long – give others the opportunity to have a safe experience.
  • Stay at home if you or someone in your household are sick.
  • Please do not bring your pets to the open space preserves.
  • Leave no trace: pack out what you pack in, because garbage collection is limited.

During this time, we are taking extra precautions to ensure the health and safety of preserve visitors. Please observe the additional rules and conditions:

  • Sierra Vista Open Space Preserve will be closing at 5:00 p.m. daily.
  • Follow the CDC’s guidance on personal hygiene prior to heading to trails: wash hands, carry hand sanitizer, and cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing.
  • Warn other trail users of your presence and as you pass to allow proper distance, and step off trails to allow others to pass, keeping recommended distances at all times. Signal your presence with your voice, bell, or horn.
  • Bring your own hand sanitizer.
  • Bring a suitable trash bag. Leave no trash, and take everything out to protect preserve staff.
  • The equestrian parking lot at Coyote Valley will be closed to equestrian parking and open to regular vehicle parking, weather permitting. Equestrians should visit Rancho Cañada del Oro Open Space Preserve for horseback riding.
  • Preserve restrooms are closed until further notice.
  • Printed maps will not be available at preserves. Please download a map from our website before you go or take a picture of the map at the kiosk before you go on the trails.


  • Visit our social media accounts every day to enjoy a virtual nature experience. Follow us on FacebookInstagram, or Twitter.
  • When you need a quick mental break, take a moment and follow this breathing exercise and enjoy the scenic views of Santa Clara Valley’s nature
  • Ulistac Natural Area Virtual Nature Walk
    Thursday, March 26, 9:30 a.m.
    Tune in to the Open Space Authority's Facebook page at 9:30 a.m. on Thursday, March 26 for an engaging and interactive live-stream nature walk through Santa Clara's Ulistac Natural Area! This is a live-stream event that you can watch from a desktop, laptop, phone, or iPad in the comfort of your own home. Viewers can ask questions through the comment feature, and we will answer them in real time! Join us with Docent Dennis to learn about the history of this beautiful and unique pocket of open space along the Guadalupe River, where wildlife roam and migratory birds stop as they travel along the Pacific Coast.
  • Wildlife Education and Rehabilitation Center Virtual Tour and Animal Presentation
    Saturday, March 28, 12:00 p.m.
    Tune in to the Open Space Authority's Facebook page at 12:00 p.m. on Saturday, March 28 for an engaging and interactive live-stream tour of our friends at the Wildlife Education and Rehabilitation Center (W.E.R.C.) in Morgan Hill. This is a live-stream event that you can watch from a desktop, laptop, phone, or iPad in the comfort of your own home. Viewers can ask questions through the comment feature, and we will answer them in real time! Learn all about the animal species that share a home with us in the Santa Clara Valley in this special behind-the-scenes presentation from W.E.R.C. staff and the animals they care for. Join us to meet a burrowing owl, a magpie, an opossum, and a hawk!

If we work together, we can all keep our parks and preserves open for the enjoyment of all and continue to build resilience within our communities.

Andrea_Spina_cropped-1With Gratitude,

Andrea Mackenzie
General Manager