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December 2018

Happy Holidays from all of us at the Open Space Authority!

Holiday Card 2018_Page_1

Growing Rancho Cañada del Oro: New acquisition expands habitat and protects open space in the Santa Cruz Mountains

On November 15, the Authority and Peninsula Open Space Trust (POST) announced the purchase of a 159-acre property that expands an important linkage between the Authority’s Rancho Cañada del Oro and Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District’s (Midpen) Sierra Azul open space preserves. This purchase, combined with the purchase of the 326-acre Barrett Canyon property earlier this year, will provide new opportunities for public access across the two preserves, while securing wildlife habitat and expanding a protected corridor between Highway 17 and Coyote Valley, a high priority area for both organizations in their shared goal of creating habitat linkages for native wildlife.


The property features diverse topography and native habitat, including serpentine soils, coast live oak woodland, California bay laurel forest and the headwaters of Barrett Creek, which flows to Almaden Reservoir. It borders two properties that were protected earlier this year in a partnership between the Authority, POST, and Midpen.

The Authority will incorporate the new land into Rancho Cañada del Oro Open Space Preserve. In coming years, the Authority will partner with Midpen to establish trails that will connect a combined 37 miles of existing trails across both Rancho Cañada del Oro and Sierra Azul, including the popular Bay Area Ridge Trail. The acquisition also gives the Authority more contiguous management of a critical fire break that helped control the 2016 Loma Fire.

Urban Open Space and Environmental Education Corner

Bay Area Ridge Trail Feasibility Study

While there are many trails in the Santa Clara Valley, none connect the Santa Cruz Mountains to the Diablo Range and tie the Santa Clara Valley into the Bay Area Ridge Trail, a 375-mile network of trails that unites the ridges circling the Bay Area. A team of local agencies and trail advocates is looking to fix this South Bay “trail gap,” a segment that stretches from Santa Teresa County Park to the Coyote Creek Parkway through the Coyote Valley. Connecting these two spaces through this critical southern linkage will expand opportunities for recreation and, according to the Authority’s Coyote Valley Landscape Linkage report, improve access to food, water, and breeding habitat for wildlife.

BARTThis past November, the Bay Area Ridge Trail Council kicked off their feasibility study and planning process, funded by a $62,000 grant from the Authority’s Measure Q Urban Open Space Grant Program. The study began with a site visit to Coyote Valley, where participants from public agencies and private organizations including the Open Space Authority, City of San Jose, Santa Clara County, Peninsula Open Space Trust, and Pathways for Wildlife gathered with the Council to discuss future possibilities. Stay tuned for future updates as the study continues.

Coyote Meadows Bio Blitz

On Saturday, November 3, Keep Coyote Creek Beautiful and the Santa Clara Audubon Society hosted their Fall BioBlitz event at Coyote Meadows, sponsored with funds from the Authority’s Measure Q Environmental Education Grant Program, and co-sponsored by the SJSU Center for Community Learning and Leadership and CommUniverCity.

Coyote Meadows - KCCB BioBlitz - A.Pilon - 11-04-18 - 1On the sunny November morning, participants worked on finding and documenting species of plants and animals over a two-hour period. Using the iNaturalist app, attendees were able to use their smartphones to record all the living things they could find along Coyote Creek. This BioBlitz resulted in 210 observations, including the identification of 37 species of plants, 27 species of arthropods (e.g. spiders), and 35 species of birds, which is a record for the area. The event gave participants the chance to explore some of the amazing natural diversity of the Santa Clara Valley as well as provide insight into the many species of organisms that depend on green spaces in the San Jose area.

Our Open Spaces Provide Us with Benefits Valued up to $12.6 Billion

It can be hard to value the benefits we get from our natural world, but a collaboration between three Bay Area conservation agencies has done just that, by estimating the monetary value of our ‘natural capital’ - soil, water, air, plants, and animals.

aerial Pajaro North william mathias

This past November, the Healthy Lands & Healthy Economies (HLHE) Initiative released the first-ever Bay Area regional report describing the economic value and community benefits of the natural and working landscapes located in Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, and Sonoma counties. The report valued 12 distinct benefits provided by nature and found that the natural capital across all three counties was valued at $4.6-12.6 billion per year - far more than these lands would sell for in the real estate market. Partners include the Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority, the Resource Conservation District of Santa Cruz County, and Sonoma County Ag + Open Space.

The HLHE Initiative aims to help local, state, and federal agencies, utilities, and private funders make more informed decisions about the protection and stewardship of working and natural lands, and how the ecosystem services provided by these lands can complement built infrastructure.

Find out more about the 12 benefits provided by natural and working lands and download the HLHE Regional Report here.

Coyote Valley: Nature as Infrastructure

Coyote Ridge 2015

Nature as Infrastructure refers to recognizing and protecting the natural ecological processes which provide us with a multitude of important “services” that include flood protection, greenhouse gas reduction, food supply, increasing resilience to climate change, and promoting the health and safety of both human and natural communities.

San Jose voters recently passed Measure T, the Disaster Preparedness, Public Safety, and Infrastructure Bond Measure. This measure authorizes $650,000,000 in general obligation bonds to upgrade 911 communications and facilities, prevent flooding and water quality contamination, and repair critical infrastructure. Measure T also includes up to $50 million for land acquisition for natural flood and water quality protection, focused primarily on Coyote Valley.

Learn more about natural infrastructure and the Authority's work in Coyote Valley here.

Who Am I?

Mark Chambers-949917-edited

I am a nocturnal bird with amazing low-light vision and even better hearing. My pale body and face can make me look somewhat ghostly as I silently fly across open lands to catch my dinner.

25 Years:

Looking Back

Coyote Valley Sunset - BA

December marks the end of our 25th Anniversary Year – a quarter century of working to protect Santa Clara Valley’s natural environment, supporting local agriculture, and connecting people to nature. Over the past 12 months, we’ve looked back at some milestone events in the history of this unique public agency including the opening of our public preserves, our varied grant programs and community initiatives, and major land protection projects that will affect our community for generations to come.

Here is our last installment, remembering things that happened in December:

Final Coyote Valley Landscape Linkage Report released in 2017
In December 2017, the Open Space Authority released the final Coyote Valley Landscape Linkage Report, which identifies the necessary essential elements for protecting and restoring a broad and resilient landscape linkage between the Santa Cruz Mountains and the Diablo Range; one that can sustain biodiversity and facilitate wildlife movement in a changing climate.

Rancho Cañada del Oro Open Space Preserve acquired in 2000
Our largest preserve, with over 12 miles of trails, including an ADA accessible paved loop trail around the meadow, was protected in December 2000. Visitors can see spectacular views of the Diablo Range and Mt. Hamilton as well as native oaks, creekside habitats, and Western pond turtles during docent-led hikes to Hidden Lake. The preserve was just expanded with a recent acquisition.

Wildlife Crossing Signage Unveiled in Coyote Valley

Wildlife Sign Unveiling

On November 30th, members of the public along with private and public agencies joined the City of San Jose and the Authority to unveil important wildlife crossing signage along Monterey Road in Coyote Valley.

Placement of this signage will improve safety for both human and natural communities while also raising awareness of the need to accommodate wildlife movement in this critical wildlife corridor.

Learn more

New Opening on the Measure Q Expenditure Oversight Committee


Do you love nature, numbers, and believe open space lands are essential to community health and well-being? Come serve on our Committee to provide public oversight for the funds that positively impact your communities. 

Apply today!

Santa Clara Valley Agricultural Plan Recognized by the Governor!

SCV Ag Plan Video Play

The Open Space Authority and Santa Clara County received a 2018 Governor's Environmental and Economic Leadership Award (GEELA) for the Santa Clara Valley Agricultural Plan.

GEELA is California's highest environmental honor, which recognizes those who have demonstrated exceptional leadership and made notable, voluntary contributions in conserving California’s precious resources, protecting and enhancing our environment, building public-private partnerships and strengthening the state’s economy.

Who Am I? Answer

Mark Chambers

I am the barn owl! My white, heart-shaped face, dark eyes, and tan body make me easy to identify. You can most likely spot me as I leave my nest after the sun goes down. I live in a variety of locations, including trees, cliff ledges, caves, and - of course - barns.

Photo Credits

Holiday Greeting - Derek Neumann, OSA Staff; Beth Hamel, OSA Docent; Matt Chesebrough, OSA Volunteer
Acquisition - Linda Kwong, OSA Staff
BART Study - Alisha Maniglia, OSA Staff
BioBlitz - Annamarie Pilon, OSA Staff
Pajaro - William Mathias
Coyote Valley - Derek Neumann, OSA Staff
Barn Owl - Mark Chambers
Sunrise - Bill Adams, OSA Volunteer
Wildlife Crossing - Alisha Maniglia, OSA Staff
Sunrise - Andres Campusano, OSA Staff
Ag Plan Video - Newsbeat

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