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January 2019

We're Rockin' Out in Nature

rocking the trail

After a long, dry year our winter storms bring much-needed hydration to our natural environment, but they take a toll on the constructed features of our preserves. A lot of work goes on behind the scenes to make sure the preserves stay safe for visitors and the trails can stay open year-round.

“It is our goal to not have to close down trails due to muddy conditions,” said Megan Robinson, Supervising Open Space Technician. As the team monitors these trails, they scan for areas that seem especially prone to rutting, due to the soil type or other conditions that make it more prone to getting muddy and unpleasant to hike on. During the inventory, they flag these sections for future "armoring" or "rocking" of the trail. This work involves laying down several sizes of rock to the trail to raise it up, adding a protective layer with a smooth surface between the visitor and the mud.

G0057983The team plays a very active role in making sure they catch potential problems before they start. “A big part of winterizing is actually increasing our presence on the preserves during active rain storms. Instead of staying inside, we like to get out in our rain gear and see what the water is doing,” says Robinson.

“Though it is often hard to jump out of the warm truck and into the rain, once we get out and start working on the trail or in the culverts, we warm up and really enjoy being out in the preserve mostly alone with nothing but the wildlife and the smells of nature.”

Learn more about how the Authority’s field team work to protect the preserves from winter storms.

Partnering to Leverage Conservation Funding

Amphibian - CS - 12-11-2014

The Open Space Authority has recently been recognized and funded for our bold work linking nature based solutions and collaborative conservation to climate resilience and for connecting the protection of agricultural lands from sprawl as a climate-smart planning effort. Learn more about these awards and grants below.

This past November, the Open Space Authority, in partnership with Peninsula Open Space Trust, was awarded a grant to study habitat use among amphibians and reptiles in Coyote Valley. The Coyote Valley Reptile and Amphibian Linkage Study is a nine-month project that will work to understand habitat quality for three threatened reptile and amphibian species of importance in and around Coyote Valley. The study aims to inform efforts to help protect and connect their habitat. The $78,948 award from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Natural Community Conservation Planning Local Assistance Grant program will fund this important research to fill a data gap on where these species are currently located and the potential to link their habitat from the surrounding foothills to the valley floor. There has been a lot of research and work trying to understand mammal movement in Coyote Valley, but little attention has been paid to other types of species, until now.

The Authority, along with partners from the San Francisco Estuary Institute and San Francisco Bay Area Planning and Urban Research Association (SPUR), were awarded $100,000 from the Silicon Valley Community Foundation for the project, "Integrated landscape planning: Nature-based solutions for more resilient cities and rural areas." The project will propose ways to build resilience in a more coordinated, integrated manner across regional urban and rural landscapes in the face of development pressure and a changing climate.

Lastly, on November 27th, California's Department of Conservation and Strategic Growth Council awarded just over $15 million to the Authority and County of Santa Clara through the Sustainable Agricultural Lands Conservation Program (SALCP) for the purchase of three Agricultural Conservation Easements. The properties, totaling 252 acres, are almost entirely prime farmland or farmland of statewide importance. Funding for SALCP comes from the state’s Cap and Trade Program through California Climate Investments.

Urban Open Space and Environmental Education Corner

New Program Helps Urban Families Gain Exposure to Nature - Children’s Discovery Museum of San Jose

HappyTrails_12.1.18Nearly 200 children and adults from San Jose will gain outdoor recreation skills thanks to Happy Trails, an innovative program that the Children’s Discovery Museum of San Jose launched to narrow the “nature gap” and make it easier for inner city families to get outside. The Authority’s Measure Q Environmental Education grant program contributed $25,000 toward the program.

The program will provide workshops for 50-60 families who have children under 10 years old, facilitating small groups in the language of their choice: Spanish, Vietnamese, or English. Each workshop includes bus transportation for a museum visit to Bill’s Backyard, a field trip to one of the Open Space Authority’s preserves, and parent resources. The workshops will culminate with a nature festival for all participants to celebrate what’s been learned and help families continue their explorations in the natural world.

The program kicked off in November with their first field trip to Rancho Cañada del Oro Open Space Preserve.

Who Am I?

manzanita-960x540 CH

I am a large shrub or small tree with shiny, mahogany-colored bark that is smooth to the touch. My leaves are green-grey and oval, and my white flowers that grow in clusters resemble small, drooping bells.

Wet Weather Hiking Tips!


Rain brings new growth, running streams, creeks and salamanders, but it also can make for muddy and slippery trails. 

Check out our wet weather and winter hiking tips to help you have a safe and enjoyable day in nature!

Download a PDF of this List

Supermoon Viewing

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

Monday, January 21, 2019
5:30 to 8 p.m.
Coyote Valley Open Space Preserve

Join the Open Space Authority for a family-friendly viewing of January's supermoon! Please bring warm clothes, water or hot chocolate to drink, and a flashlight. We will walk out to our bridge and watch the super moon rise over the eastern foothills in the distance. This event is all-access. Reservation is BY THE PARKING SPACE. Sunset is at 5:15 p.m. and moonrise is at 6:15 p.m. Please arrive by 5:45 p.m. with your ticket on your dashboard so we can all walk together. Gates will close at 6:00 p.m. to allow for better viewing. Rain or heavy clouds will cancel.


Docent Volunteer Training

Open Road Sierra Vista

Saturday, January 26, 2019
10 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Open Space Authority Headquarters

What’s a docent, you ask? Have you ever been on a volunteer-led hike in a park or preserve and wished you knew more about the local plants, animals, and history so that you could lead outdoor activities too? Well you can! We would love to teach you a fun and engaging way to give back to your community while enjoying beautiful scenery. Join us for a free docent training program for new AND returning volunteers.


Who Am I? Answer

berries-600x360 CH

I am the Bigberry manzanita. As a California native, I am tolerant of drought, and I look green even during the driest summer months. My namesake berries are edible - some people even make jelly or cider with them! You can find me growing between big rocks and boulders at Rancho Cañada del Oro Open Space Preserve.

Photo Credits

Rocking - OSA Staff
OSA Tech - OSA Trail Camera
Newt - Cait Hutnik, OSA Docent
Happy Trails - Children's Discovery Museum
Manzanita - Cait Hutnik, OSA Docent
Coyote Valley - Samsudin Kamis
Moon - JD Moore, OSA Volunteer
Docents - Derek Neumann, OSA Staff

Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority | 408.224.7476 |