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July 2019

242-Acre Purchase Completes Tapestry of Connected Open Space in Santa Cruz Mountains


Undeveloped and largely untouched, a 242-acre purchase made by the Open Space Authority in partnership with the Peninsula Open Space Trust (POST) completes another pivotal piece of the Santa Cruz Mountains preservation puzzle, opening new possibilities for growing an interconnected trail network. This key acquisition increases opportunities for a tapestry of connected regional trails between three protected preserves by linking the Authority’s Rancho Cañada del Oro to its Mount Chual preserve while expanding connections to Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District’s Sierra Azul. The newly protected lands also allow for important connectivity of wildlife movement between the Santa Cruz Mountains and the Diablo range – while providing spectacular, sweeping views of south San Jose, Mount Umunhum, and the surrounding valley.

Much of the land includes chaparral and mixed evergreen forest that remains undisturbed except for an unpaved firebreak road that was heavily used in efforts to limit the spread of the Loma Fire in 2016. The permanent protection of these lands enhances the ability of the Authority to maintain this regionally significant life-and property-saving firebreak. Preservation of the property also safeguards the headwaters of Barrett Creek and portions of the Llagas Creek headwaters, which helps secure clean water for local communities.

Members of the Martinez family and the current owners are delighted that this property will be in the Authority's hands and glad to see local entities working to protect undeveloped land amidst the sprawl of urban development.

Learn more about this new acquisition here.

Community Connections: Clayton Koopmann

Community Connections highlights the many leaders, partners, and neighbors who make a difference in our community. This month we are featuring Clayton Koopmann, local cattle rancher and rangeland ecologist/rangeland management specialist.

Clayton Koopmann and MooseClayton Koopmann is a fifth-generation cattle rancher who has seen the Bay Area grow and change. His family settled on a homestead near Sunol, CA in 1918. Koopmann learned the ropes of ranching from a young age and earned his Bachelor's of Science in Agricultural Management and Rangeland Resources at the University of California, Davis. After coming home, he started his own herd to carry on the family tradition.

When researchers began realizing the ecological benefits of grazing livestock on native grasslands, Koopmann helped Midpeninsula Open Space District start a conservation grazing program and developed a plan to reintroduce cattle to open space preserves in 2008. In 2013, the Open Space Authority granted Koopmann a contract to graze about 850 acres at Sierra Vista Open Space Preserve, pursuant to the Grazing Management Policy. Over the last five years, Koopmann has worked with the Authority to improve grazing infrastructure across Sierra Vista so that cattle can be moved around the preserve strategically. This allows for focus on various seasonal grazing objectives like fire prevention and maintaining sensitive habitats.

Koopmann is excited by the recognition of how grazing can help to protect against habitat and species loss and is enthusiastic about being an advocate for the land and his industry. “When I’m out in the preserve, I love to stop and answer questions about grazing and our work,” he says. “I know that does a lot of good, [visitors] take that message and share it with their friends.”

Read more about Koopmann's partnership with the Authority here.

Greening Urban Spaces to Improve Habitat & Build Climate Resilience

Our urban landscape is a challenging place for native plants and wildlife to thrive. The sea of asphalt and pavement on our streets and sidewalks, as well as man-made structures disrupt the movement of animals and provide barriers to the growth and dispersal of native plants, critical for urban biodiversity. Urban infrastructure has replaced vital “green” infrastructure that can help offset the loss of wildlife habitat.

SFEI studyA new guide prepared by the San Francisco Estuary Institute (SFEI) in collaboration with the Open Space Authority sets forth a practical vision for improving the ecological health of San Jose and Santa Clara County. It shows ways that public agencies, private citizens, and business owners can help improve biodiversity by encouraging “urban greening,” providing and augmenting green spaces wherever possible, that can be used by locally native, wild plants and animals. The Urban Ecological Planning Guide for Santa Clara County identifies key areas in the Santa Clara Valley where the integration of urban greening and ecological planning can help enhance our natural environment and make our region more resilient to the stresses of development and climate change. This can be done through planting various sized urban open spaces with native plants, aiming to create viable wildlife habitat.

“Even small urban greening actions by individuals can help,” says Donna Plunkett, Planning Manager at the Authority. “This report helps to show the public that in addition to the larger land areas that we work to protect, there are opportunities for protecting wildlife and native plants at every scale in our urban environment.”

Learn more about this new report here.

Urban Open Space & Environmental Education Corner

The Open Space Authority has made a commitment to Investing in Nature within our communities through the Measure Q Urban Open Space and Environmental Education Grant Programs. These grant programs 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 the Authority’s Measure Q Environmental Education Grant Program.

CommUniverCity kidsWhile many local communities face obstacles to healthy eating, CommUniverCity’s “Growing Sustainably” program is increasing awareness of healthy eating and environmental stewardship in San Jose neighborhoods through garden education, school garden clubs, and workshops on nutrition and healthy food. CommUniverCity is a unique partnership between San Jose State University and the City of San Jose that pairs college interns with elementary school groups to develop and teach lessons about nature, gardening, and choosing healthy and culturally-relevant foods. This three-year program, aided by a $166,740 grant from the Authority, has the goal of reaching 200 students per year. Over the past school year, the program worked with 285 elementary and middle school students at 5 different schools.

“This program really opens your eyes to the problems that exist in our cities today, like food deserts,” says Alex Dahl, Growing Sustainably Program Manager and master’s student in the Department of Environmental Studies. “It’s hard to eat healthy. We’re introducing kids to things like seasonality of produce and buying organic.”

Learn more about CommUniverCity's work in the community here

Who Am I?

Who Am I?

I am a small, spotted wild cat native to California and found throughout the United States. In the Santa Clara Valley, I reside in the oak woodlands, meadows, and rocky hills. I am named and known for my short tail, although some of us have tails up to 6 inches in length! Who am I?

Palassou Ridge Public Access Weekend

Palassou Ridge

Saturday, August 10 & Sunday, August 11

This August, the Open Space Authority will be opening the currently by-reservation-only Palassou Ridge preserve north of Gilroy to members of the public for one special-access weekend! Palassou Ridge connects Coyote Lake-Harvey Bear Ranch County Park to Henry W. Coe State Park. This preserve has deep, wooded canyons and rolling grassy hills as well as important habitat for California red-legged frogs and California tiger salamanders. The area will be open to hikers and equestrians for this weekend. Save the date!

As part of the Authority’s continued effort to expand public access, this event will help our community learn about these protected open spaces, their wildlife and natural resources, and habitat restoration plans.

Learn More

"Saving Western
Burrowing Owls"
A Documentary on Local Efforts to Protect a Native Species

Owl film

Over the last few decades, the population of breeding Western burrowing owls has declined in Santa Clara County. 

Last fall, we shared a story about creating artificial burrows at Sierra Vista Open Space Preserve to entice wintering owls to stay and breed, as part of a research project led by Dr. Lynne Trulio, Professor of Environmental Studies and Department Chair at San Jose State University.

Coriolis Films LLC recently released a short documentary following this study and its successes so far in using methods that will hopefully increase the survival of burrowing owls around the Bay Area. Check it out!

Watch the Film

Family Picnic Day at Little Uvas Creek

Little Uvas Creek

Sunday, July 14, 2019
10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.

Little Uvas Creek Preserve
16541-16905 Uvas Road, Morgan Hill

Join us for a fun-filled, family-friendly day at this picture-perfect preserve!

Little Uvas Creek is located in the southern Santa Cruz Mountains, just west of Morgan Hill. The area contains beautiful rolling hills, oak trees, and a pond full of frogs, fish, and other wildlife! Families can enjoy watercolor and finger painting, nature activities and crafts, a wildlife presentation - or simply come to enjoy the beautiful outdoors together!


Who Am I? Answer


I am the bobcat! I am a solitary and nocturnal animal, preferring to avoid human interactions. However, you may be lucky enough to spot me in the Llagas Meadow or Catamount Trail at Rancho Cañada del Oro Open Space Preserve at dawn or dusk.

Photo Credits

Martinez Property - Linda Kwong, OSA Staff
Clayton Koopmann - Annamarie Pilon, OSA Staff
Growing Sustainably - CommUniverCity
Bobcat - Rebecca Shoeneberger
Palassou Ridge - Teri Rogoway, OSA Staff
Burrowing Owls - Coriolis Films LLC
Little Uvas Creek - OSA Archive

Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority | 408.224.7476 |