Not rendering correctly? View this email as a web page here.


August 2019

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

IMG_0035Driving down the rural roads south of Morgan Hill, you might forget you are still in the San Francisco Bay Area. Rows of green fields stretch as far as you can see, between the Santa Cruz Mountains to the west and the Diablo Range in the east.

Luís Urias is no stranger to this land - he has been farming in the Southern Santa Clara Valley for over two decades. He owns and operates UC Farms, Inc., a family-run vegetable farm in the South County. They currently farm organically on the Authority’s Pajaro River Agricultural Preserve, a 284-acre plot of agricultural land that consists of two properties, a southern and northern parcel, which were protected by the Open Space Authority in 2014 and 2016, respectively. From early 2017 through the winter of 2018, Authority staff and volunteers worked to clean up the northern parcel of the property so it would be ready to farm again. They removed graffiti, invasive vegetation, and more than 100 truck-loads of trash! Last year, UC Farms began farming the southern parcel, and this year they started growing on the northern parcel, made possible by the monumental clean-up of the property.

PRAP row crops-1Three years ago, Urias decided to switch his operations over to organic methods. While this decision puts a small farm at the whims of Mother Nature, UC Farms is experimenting with natural disease and pest control measures and other ecologically-friendly farming practices. “Organic is what people like and it’s what they are buying,” he says. “Organic will be our future!”

Farming is hard work, and while Urias acknowledges the challenges, he’s still happy when he’s in the field. “I’ve been doing this for more than 20 years and I still love it.”

Eventually his son, Adrian, plans to take a bigger role in the family’s operation. He’s currently studying biology at Gavilan College and manages the farm’s food safety certification, a program that allows the operation to sell to bigger commercial food service clients. He hopes to eventually work as an agronomist (a specialist in crop and soil science and ecology) and progress the farm sustainably. “I cherish the opportunity to work alongside the Open Space Authority,” he says. “The positive impact we are working towards makes the future exiting to create.”

Read the full UC Farms story here.

Public Access Project Kicks Off for Coyote Ridge Open Space Preserve

CRID - Landscape - D.Neumann - 03-16-13 - 13

We are very excited to announce the launch of our Coyote Ridge Open Space Preserve Public Use and Access Plan!

Located just 10 miles from downtown San Jose, Coyote Ridge lets visitors experience a largely undisturbed serpentine grassland setting, with native species including the threatened Bay Checkerspot butterfly, seasonal wildflowers, and stunning views over the Coyote Valley. The Authority has protected over 1,800 acres at Coyote Ridge with funding from several conservation partners and co-manages it with the Santa Clara Valley Habitat Agency in order to protect habitat for rare plants and animals in Santa Clara County.

Once the project is complete, the preserve will include a parking and gathering area accessible by Malech Road, a sustainable trail network, and a staging area with restrooms, trailhead, and interpretive features and signage. Access to the ridgeline will complete a nearly 3-mile segment of the Bay Area Ridge Trail. The goals of this project are to protect rare habitat and sensitive species while providing a high-quality experience through our Open Access Weekend events and docent-led programs. A partnership with the Bay Area Ridge Trail Council will also provide additional guided access to the preserve.

Check out the Coyote Ridge project page to learn more and get involved in the planning and design process.

Urban Open Space and Environmental Education Corner

The Open Space Authority has made a commitment to Investing in Nature within our communities through our grant programs, which have already awarded $2.8 million in funding to dozens of organizations making a difference here in the Santa Clara Valley. Here is a recent update from one organization supported by an Authority grant.

KCCB---Expansion---400x360One 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.

Keep Coyote Creek Beautiful is working to engage students, teachers, and the public by creating “Watershed-in-a-Box” kits, ready-made lesson plans and educational materials that teach about our local watershed and creek conservation. These kits are designed for various age groups and can be used in either K-12 classrooms, especially seven target schools located along Coyote Creek, or in mixed groups at public, community events. The goal of the program is to build awareness and value of the creek environment so that people will help to appreciate our natural environment and get involved in advocacy and cleanup events.

KCCB - Expansion-1The Coyote Creek Environmental Education Project partnered with both San Jose State University and the CommUniverCity program to engage college students in the development of the curricula and activities. This year, the educational kits will be used in 5 different schools, at 8 after-school programs, and at 15 public events.

Learn more about Keep Coyote Creek Beautiful's work in the community here.

Who Am I?


I’m a native plant with a reputation! I grow as a shrub or vine and am found all over California in forests, woodlands, and grasslands. You can spot me by my glossy leaflets that grow in threes and may be green or red, depending on the season. Hikers are careful to avoid me...or else risk a nasty rash! Who am I?

Hike and Horseback Ride at Palassou Ridge this August!

PRID - Landscape - D.Neumann - 7-14-19 - 12

Sunday, August 11
7:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Parking at the Henry Coe State Park Hunting Hollow Entrance
Gilroy Hot Springs Road, Gilroy

For one weekend this August, the Open Space Authority will be opening up the currently by-reservation-only Palassou Ridge Preserve for walking and horseback riding (stayed tuned for a mountain biking-only access day this fall!). Palassou Ridge offers 12 miles of easy, moderate, and difficult trails to explore for hikers and horseback riders of all fitness and experience levels!

Learn more about the preserve, download the trail map, and reserve your parking spot below. Registration is almost full!


Join Senator Jim Beall for the 2019 Los Gatos Creek Clean Up!

beall creek cleanup

Saturday, August 24, 2019
8:45 - 11:00 a.m.
Campbell Park, between Campbell & Gilman Ave., Campbell

Join Senator Beall, local organizations, and community members to give back to the environment and keep our local creek clean! Trash bags, pick-up sticks, and gloves will be provided. Please dress appropriately for outdoor activities, and wear sturdy footwear. The Senator will be available to discuss legislative matters relating to the environment.


Full Moon Hikes at Coyote Ridge this September

2010-05-03.Night shoot Sierra Vista OSP-7069-1

Friday, September 13
6:30 - 10:00 p.m.
Saturday, September 14
5:00 - 10:00 p.m.

Coyote Ridge Open Space Preserve

Join us at Coyote Ridge to watch the September Harvest Moon rise above the Santa Clara Valley. On Friday, drive to the top of the ridge and bring chairs or a blanket to watch the moonrise picnic-style, or start from the bottom of the ridge on Saturday for a more strenuous hike under the full moon. Registration will be available with the release of our September Event Calendar later this month. Sign up for our Event Calendar email list to ensure you get a spot!

Sign Up!

Who Am I? Answer


I am Pacific poison oak! “Leaves of three, let it be,” is a helpful rhyme people use to avoid coming in contact with me and the rash-causing oil I produce. I belong to the same family as poison ivy and poison sumac, which are found in other parts of the United States.

Photo Credits

Luís Urias - Annamarie Pilon, OSA Staff
Crops - Derek Neumann, OSA Staff
Coyote Ridge - Derek Neumann, OSA Staff
Keep Coyote Creek Beautiful Activities - Ron Horii, OSA Docent
Poison Oak - OSA Archive
Palassou Ridge - Derek Neumann, OSA Staff
Full Moon - J.D. Moore

Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority | 408.224.7476 |