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July 2020

Restoring Essential Creekside Habitat at Fisher’s Bend

Crucial habitat conservation work often starts in the same way - by hauling away lots and lots of trash!

Last month, work began on the Fisher Creek Restoration Project, a multi-phase effort to restore a key segment of riparian habitat on the Fisher’s Bend property. The creek is an important movement corridor for many wildlife species, including bobcats, California red-legged frogs, and Western Pond Turtles. Unfortunately, this natural area had long been neglected and was filled with garbage.

fishers bend tires-1In the first week, a restoration team from the San Jose Conservation Corps cleared thickets of invasive plants known to crowd out native species, like poison hemlock. Hidden beneath all that hemlock were loads of trash, including more than 90 tires. Restoration plans include planting more than 1,500 native plants in the area to provide a variety of benefits, both for wildlife and to increase the climate resilience of the area.

“This is really the beginning of a lot more restoration work we will be doing in Coyote Valley. This project shows one of the ways that we are trying to transform the landscape, creating habitat, and facilitating wildlife movement” said Galli Basson, Resource Management Specialist at the Open Space Authority.

The restoration project is currently managed by the Open Space Authority with the assistance of Peninsula Open Space Trust, the non-profit Pt. Blue Conservation Science, and habitat restoration contractor Go Native. Stay tuned for updates, and read more here!

Transit to Trails: A New Opportunity to Take BART to Open Space

Trail advocates know that to make parks available to everyone in the community you need to make them easy to get to, whether visitors arrive by bus, train, or car.

Berryessa BART - C.Kifer - 2020-06 - 2-1On June 13th, the Bay Area Ridge Trail project reached a key milestone with the opening of the new Berryessa BART Station in North San Jose. This long-anticipated transit project includes a new 0.7-mile trail extension, linking the new station to the Penitencia Creek Trail and connecting BART for the first time with the City of San José Trail Network and the Authority’s Sierra Vista Open Space Preserve.

With support from the Authority’s Urban Grant Program and other funders, the Bay Area Ridge Trail Council has created elements to orient arriving BART passengers to the open space near the station. These include wayfinding signs and interpretive panels outside of the station, brochures, and community outreach including virtual or live (when public events are back) guided excursions to introduce people to the Ridge Trail.

“This new trail connection offers the opportunity for people from all backgrounds to access the Ridge Trail and all the wonderful parks and open space they may not even know are nearby,” said Liz Westbrook, Trail Program Director, Bay Area Ridge Trail Council. “Because this BART connection now exists, people from all around the Bay Area can experience those natural spaces without getting into a car.”

On July 9th, the Bay Area Ridge Trail Council will host a Virtual Dedication of the new trail and celebration of this new open space access point. Register for the event here!

Read more about the monumental project here.

How to Enjoy the Night Sky from Home

Warm summer nights are here, one of the best times of year to enjoy astronomy! To get some tips for exploring the night sky close to home, we spoke with Swami Nigam, Director of the San Jose Astronomical Association (SJAA). SJAA is a long-time partner of the Authority, co-hosting many events over the last decade or more, including our regular “Starry Nights” program. While the current pandemic has put many public events on hold, Nigam said his organization quickly shifted their events online which has helped them reach a new audience. “Even after this is all over, I think we’ll continue doing virtual events, it’s a really good way to connect with people who can’t make it out at night in person.”

Starry Night 2-1-1

Learning to identify some of the basic objects visible at night will go a long way toward making astronomy more meaningful and relevant in your life. The SJAA hosts monthly free beginner astronomy workshops to learn about what you can see from your own backyard. The local Lick Observatory also has a weekly “Ask an Astronomer” lecture series. In our own shift to virtual, the Authority has launched events in collaboration with the SJAA. We hosted a virtual viewing of the sunset and moonrise in May, where SJAA members joined in the comments to answer astronomy questions. Stay tuned for more Authority astronomy events this summer!

The nighttime clarity and visibility of stars, planets, and constellations depend on location, but you can still enjoy astronomy even if you live in the middle of the city - especially if you take the time to watch the calendar. Planets and bright stars are most visible in the darkest phases of the lunar cycle, around the New Moon. And the waxing and waning of the moon can be admired almost every night of the year.

When you are just getting started learning about astronomy, the members of SJAA often suggest getting some good binoculars before buying a telescope, as they offer significantly better definition than many telescopes. Once you are ready to invest in a telescope, SJAA is available to give recommendations. You’ll also want to download software to learn more about what’s in the sky. There are many free and cheap applications for computers and smartphones.

Get more tips and tricks and how to get started with backyard astronomy here.

In Memory of Gerry Joyce
With heavy hearts we share with you that the President of the SJAA, Gerry Joyce, passed away this May. Gerry was a longtime Authority docent and friend. We will miss his passion and are deeply grateful for his contributions to connecting people to nature and the wonders of the night sky. This summer, we hope you will take a moment to enjoy the stars in Gerry’s memory.

Who Am I?

Purple Needlegrass blur

I am a hardy native plant that can out-compete some invasive plants and tolerate a variety of soil types, including serpentine and clay soils. I am a key component of native grasslands and can grow more than 3 feet tall! In 2004 I was named the California state grass. Who am I?

Connecting Our Community: Vacancies on the Citizens' Advisory Committee


The Authority is seeking passionate volunteers who have a unique connection to their communities to serve as liaisons and help fulfill the Authority’s mission.

The Citizens’ Advisory Committee’s (CAC) purpose is to provide many avenues of input to and from the Authority’s diverse communities. Members provide a broad representation of interests within the Authority’s jurisdiction and are appointed by the Board to serve two-year terms. Taking applications now!

Learn More

Discover Open Space with OuterSpatial

r.horii hikers 4

The Open Space Authority is now on OuterSpatial! Next time you hit the trails at an open space preserve, up the adventure by downloading the OuterSpatial mobile app and engaging in all aspects of the preserve with the easy-to-use interface and supportive features. Get the app today to have the best experience exploring nature!

Download the App

Investing in Nature: Five-year Impact Report to the Community


Human health and well-being depend on the health of our planet. Now more than ever, the public is expressing its support and need for connection with nature and being in open space.

Learn more about how we are making sure nature is nearby and accessible to EVERYONE in our interactive Five-year Impact Report to the Community

View the Report

Who Am I? Answer

Purple Needlegrass-1

I am the purple needlegrass! My purple fruits (which holds seeds) are connected to long, twisting appendages called awns, which help the seeds bury into the soil to germinate. Today you can find me growing along the Llagas Creek Loop Trail in Rancho Cañada del Oro Open Space Preserve, where a prescribed burn about a decade ago helped support a native grassland.

Photo Credits

Fisher Creek Restoration - Galli Basson, Authority Staff
Berryessa BART Station - Cassie Kifer
Stargazing - Authority Archives
Purple Needlegrass - Authority Archives
Sunrise Hikers - Cassie Kifer
Sierra Vista Hikers - Ron Horii
Students in Garden - CommUniverCity

Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority | 408.224.7476 |