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January 2021

Urban Grant Program Awards Over $860,000 In Measure Q Funds

Last month, as part of the continued effort to equitably serve its vast jurisdiction, the Open Space Authority’s Board of Directors selected the recipients of its Large Grant awards, completing this fiscal year’s Urban Grant Program award cycle. Over $875,000 was awarded to ten community organizations, bringing the total grant funding provided this cycle to over $1M.

Smiling students posing around garden bedThe projects funded by the Urban Grant Program foster the Authority’s larger goal to help urban communities overcome barriers to accessing nature, and to make this access as equitable as possible for present and future generations. Recipients of the Large Grant awards were chosen to support this effort and fully represent the community. From Bay Area Older Adult’s Trailblazer Program, enabling vulnerable older adults to access open space, to Guadalupe River Park Conservancy’s “Outdoor Field Trips” for Title 1 schools and special needs groups, the Authority is making strides towards serving the whole community and ensuring that all people can enjoy the physical, mental, and spiritual benefits of nature.

“This funding will support our outdoor environmental education programs to allow our youth to experience the benefits of nature and see how resilient it can be - even in the middle of a city,” said Jason Su, the Executive Director of the Guadalupe River Park Conservancy. “We are so grateful for what the Authority allows us to do.”

Launched in 2016, the Urban Grant Program is one of two grant programs the Authority offers. This program is separated into Small Grants and Large Grants and provides a variety of opportunities to support urban nature access at the community level. The Large Grant awards follow the Small Grants awarded in September of this year, which totaled nearly $200,000. The Program is funded by Measure Q, now renewed by the passage of Measure T this past November with 81% of the vote, securing the Authority’s investment in nature in communities for years to come.

“We are so proud to be making direct investments in local communities and working to connect all people in our jurisdiction to nature,” said Andrea Mackenzie, the General Manager of the Authority. “By passing Measure T with 81% approval this November, voters have made clear that access to parks and open space is essential to their physical and mental health. Measure T will continue to allow the Open Space Authority to make investments in organizations that provide access to nature in the urban core.”

The Authority looks forward to the positive impact the 2020 grantees will have in their communities over the coming years. We will be working closely with the grantees, regularly sharing progress and outcomes with the public through the Authority’s website and monthly Urban Open Space Corner articles.

Learn more about the Urban Grant Program and the new projects that were awarded grants here.  

New Life at Fisher’s Bend

There are new projects taking root along Fisher Creek!

Over the summer, we shared an update about the initial cleanup work that Authority staff and conservation partners were doing to restore Fisher’s Bend, a protected creekside property with crucial riparian habitat and wildlife linkages in the Coyote Valley.

Hands placing plant in soilThis past fall, field staff from the Open Space Authority and Point Blue Conservation Science have been able to start adding native plants across the property. Over the next year, the team plans to add a diverse mix of 1,300 plants to enhance habitat, provide food for native wildlife, and offer cover for animals who move through the environment.

“I’m very happy with the care and thought that went into plant selection to expand the vegetation mix and create a climate resilient palate,” said Galli Basson, Resource Management Specialist at the Open Space Authority. “We chose plants that are native to the area but also do well in a variety of climatic conditions. There will always be something blooming, which is good for pollinators.” The plants include smaller species that are food for butterflies and other pollinators, and larger shrubby plants that provide safe cover for wildlife passing through.

The landscape is already showing signs of new life. Staff and farmers working on the property have witnessed increased bird activity including Song Sparrows, Ruby Crowned Kinglets, and Say's Phoebes. The first phase of planting is expected to wrap up in January, and the second phase will launch next fall, with two other related habitat improvement projects on the horizon.

Read more about this phase and the related restoration projects here.

Community Connections - Luis Gaytan

Community Connections highlights the many leaders, partners, and neighbors who make a difference in our community. This month we are featuring Luis Gaytan, farmer and owner of G&G Farms in Coyote Valley.

Luis Gaytan smilingFor more than 20 years, Luis Gaytan has been working the land across the Coyote Valley growing hay and alfalfa, starting as a worker and now owner of G&G Farms.

“I know this ground really well; this is Mother Nature. We have to protect it, it’s our last chance.”

Gaytan took over the long-time farming operation in the Coyote Valley a few years ago after the former owner and partner passed away. One of the parcels the farm currently leases is the protected Fisher’s Bend property, which was purchased by Peninsula Open Space Trust (POST) in 2017 and is currently managed by the Open Space Authority. This crucial piece of land, adjacent to Fisher Creek, provides key habitat and safe linkages for wildlife travelling between the Diablo and Santa Cruz mountain ranges. It’s one piece of the broader vision the Authority and other local conservation partners share for the future of the Coyote Valley.

In step with these conservation priorities, Gaytan looks for opportunities to incorporate conservation into his operations. At Fisher’s Bend, he is planning to grow an additional field of alfalfa, which provides foraging habitat for many species of native birds. He is also working with the Open Space Authority and other partners to put up barn owl nesting boxes and native bee boxes around the area to provide additional habitat. Last year the Open Space Authority and POST helped to fix a long-abandoned water well on the property, which will allow Gaytan to grow the new alfalfa on the land as well as provide needed irrigation for native plant restoration efforts.

Gaytan sees these partnerships and vision as a reason to be excited for the future. “I hope this will always be open and productive land. We can educate people and let them know how we get our food and teach kids how important it is to maintain the open land. At the same time, we can protect the animals that live here.”

Read more about Gaytan's story and watch an interview with him here.

Who Am I?

Who Am I?

I am a native bird with black, white, and blue iridescent feathers and a bright yellow bill. I belong to the crow family, along with ravens, jays, and rooks. I build domed nests out of sticks and mud in tall trees — about 50 feet off the ground. Who am I?

Explore Our Virtual Nature Programs Library

bird drawing - 1-1

Have you ever missed one of our livestream nature events that you wanted to attend? Never fear! We record ALL our livestream programs for you to watch at any time.

Check out one of our curated playlists (Wildlife, Art & Nature, Tours of Open Space, Plants, and Mental Wellness), or explore our full library of virtual nature programs on YouTube.

Watch Virtual Programs

The Secret Life of Squirrels: Virtual Program

SVIS - Ground Squirrels - D.Mauk - 2020-06-30 - 2

Saturday, January 23
10:00 a.m. - 11:00 a.m.
Zoom Webinar

In honor of National Squirrel Appreciation Day on January 21, join us for a fun and engaging online program about the secret lives of squirrels. Why do they do those nutty things they do? How do they deal with danger? What fun secrets do they have? Tune in and find out!


Vacancies on Citizens' Advisory Committee and Measure Q Expenditure Oversight Committee

Coyote Valley dirt trail winding through tree covered hillside

Are you interested in facilitating community input to and from the Open Space Authority? The Citizens’ Advisory Committee (CAC) serves to provide communications to the Board from the public, aid in fostering a positive public image of the Authority, and help educate the public about the Authority’s goals and accomplishments.

Learn More

Do you love nature and numbers? Do you believe open space lands are essential to community health and well-being? If so, the Measure Q Expenditure Oversight Committee might be the perfect volunteer role for you! This committee provides public oversight for all funds collected and allocated by Measure Q. 

Learn More

Who Am I? Answer

Yellow-Billed Magpie perched on fence with green background

I am the Yellow-Billed Magpie! Although other species of magpies are worldwide, the Yellow-Billed Magpie is only found in a small area of California, along the central valley and coast range. But here in the Santa Clara Valley, Yellow-Billed Magpies aren’t hard to spot – you can almost always find them at Coyote Valley Open Space Preserve!

Photo Credits

Living Classroom Students - Living Classroom
Fisher's Bend Planting - David Mauk, Authority Staff
Luis Gaytan - Jordan Plotsky
Yellow-Billed Magpie - David Mauk, Authority Staff
Virtual Nature Art Lesson - Annamarie Pilon, Authority Staff
Ground Squirrels - David Mauk, Authority Staff
Coyote Valley Arrowhead Trail - Nicole Gittleson

Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority | 408.224.7476 |