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July 2021

Equity Lens: July 2021

The Open Space Authority is committed to the values of inclusion and equity in every facet of our work. We recognize this is a life-long effort, without a beginning or an end. It includes short-term and long-term goals, and our first step is listening to the community and reflecting upon our own practices and systems of work. From here, we will reflect on the ways that we engage in larger systems and structures within our community, both positive and negative, to identify and inform meaningful actions and change.

SVIS - Landscape - D.Neumann - Jul-29-2018 - 6

On May 27, the Open Space Authority Board of Directors proudly passed a resolution celebrating Pride Month, committing the agency to creating safe, welcoming, and inclusive outdoor spaces for all. Read about the recognition on our blog here.

Back in January 2021, the Board created an Ad Hoc Committee, comprised of Board and CAC members, who report dedicated to evaluating and improving how the Authority’s work integrates and reflects the values of justice, equity, diversity, inclusion, and accessibility. The committee has engaged a consultant to help facilitate these meetings, and in the meantime the first official meeting took place in May 2021, with great participation. The Staff Working Group for the AdHoc committee is currently conducting research and gathering data to help understand the baseline level of diversity, equity, and inclusion at the Authority, with the findings presented during the upcoming meeting in July.

The Authority is also in the early planning stages for a new project launching this Fall, the ADA Transition Plan, which will ensure that the Open Space Authority is in full compliance of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This plan will include a comprehensive evaluation of the Authority’s properties and practices, as well as identify a phased approach for implementing the changes necessary to improve accessibility and inclusion throughout the Authority’s facilities, programs, services, activities, and communications.

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While we are actively working to improve our practices and increase equitable access to nature, we recognize that this will be a process and we still have a lot of work to do. There is much more to be done, and we want you to hold us accountable. Please reach out to us at, and let us know how we can improve. We represent you, the Santa Clara Valley community, and we want to hear your voices. We are working, and we are listening. 

Leave No Trace While Enjoying the Outdoors This Summer

mask on trail - canva - trash - leave no trace

Local open spaces are a great way to get fresh air, exercise, and connect with nature.

With so many people heading outside to enjoy our preserves, it’s important to remember our responsibility to protect the lands that offer these valuable recreation opportunities - by leaving nature as we found it.

You may be familiar with the phrase “leave no trace,” but if not, we have a fairly simple explanation. 

Leave no trace involves minimizing your footprint, metaphorically and literally, on the land you're visiting. This can mean anything from staying on the trail to avoid disrupting wildlife habitat, keeping a safe distance from local wildlife, taking nothing but photos, and not leaving any litter behind, which can harm animals and take away from the natural beauty we all enjoy.

Click the link below to learn about the six most common kinds of litter we find at Open Space Authority preserves so you can keep these in mind when packing for your next adventure.

Learn more

A New Approach to Restoring Coyote Valley's Watershed

Peninsula Open Space Trust (POST) and the Open Space Authority are working to address worsening drought conditions through nature-based solutions like floodplain and habitat restoration projects.

Coyote Valley Teddy Miller Well Drilling

By installing nine groundwater monitoring wells throughout Coyote Valley, POST and Open Space Authority are helping improve the use and management of the groundwater in the region. The wells will measure the groundwater aquifer’s water level to help ensure that groundwater is being used sustainably, and will also inform future creek and wetland restoration work in Coyote Valley.  

“This is an exciting change,” says Jake Smith, Conservation GIS Coordinator at the Authority. “We are seeing a fundamental shift in how agencies are approaching land management and restoration. The focus is usually placed on how to restore a specific site of a larger landscape, but now the focus is pivoting on how to support the landscape as a whole.”   

As a critically important part of our local ecosystem, this watershed, along with productive wetlands, promotes biodiversity, increases climate resilience, supports local wildlife, and improves water quality and buffers our aquifers from droughts - which is especially relevant as local reservoirs continue to dry up.

Keep reading

Connecting People to Nature Through Storytelling

Dear Open Space Friends and Family, 


As the Open Space Authority's incoming Communications Specialist, I’m excited to get to know you -  and thought you might like to learn a little bit about me as well. 

Raised in San José, my passion for horses and the outdoors shaped both my lifestyle and career choices. When I moved to Morgan Hill a few years ago with my (now) husband, I was ecstatic to live just a short distance from Coyote Valley Open Space Preserve. As one of my favorite places to go for hikes and trail rides, these lands hold a very special place in my heart.

For over a decade, I've tried to "walk the talk" by dedicating my career to protecting public lands, water, and wildlife by connecting people to nature and conservation through storytelling. As someone who grew up watching some of my favorite outdoor places disappear due to development and urban sprawl, it's a great privilege to help further the Authority’s mission. Protecting open spaces, natural areas, and working farms and ranches in my own wild backyard is a real dream come true. 

I look forward to sharing some very exciting news about Coyote Valley Conservation Areas Master Plan very soon, so please keep an eye out for updates in our upcoming newsletters and on social media. You can also sign-up for the Authority’s Master Plan interest list to receive notifications about ways to get involved, including a fun and educational three-part webinar series later this year. 

In the meantime, please feel free to reach out if you have any questions or feedback regarding this update, or anything else!  

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Warm regards,

Charlotte Graham (She/Her/Hers)
Communications Specialist

Who Am I?

Coyote Valley - gopher snake - G. Charlotte

I am a non-venomous snake, but when startled, I will flatten my head and vibrate my tail to look like a rattlesnake. Snakes like me can grow between three and eight feet long, and we're mostly active during the day. I can thrive in many habitats, including forests, deserts, prairies, agricultural fields, and shrublands. Who am I?

Open Space Authority Awarded Certificate of Excellence for Transparency

Sunrise over golden hillside and rocks

On Friday, June 18th the Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority received the District Transparency Certificate of Excellence by the Special District Leadership Foundation in recognition of our efforts to promote transparency and good governance.

Learn more

Everyday Actions Can Prevent Wildfires

child blowing bubbles

Summer is a time of celebration - and for many, that includes balloons. While these colorful decorations add to the festivities, did you know metallic balloons can cause power outages and fires when they float into power lines? When metal touches high voltage electrical cables, it generates a surge of electricity, causing them to short-circuit.

Don't let metallic balloons ruin the party! Make sure they're tied down securely, or use an earth-friendly alternative, like bubbles. Bubbles are also safer for wildlife, who often mistake balloons for food.

Google Grant Helps Protect Monarch Butterflies in Coyote Valley

monarch butterfly closeup

On Thursday, June 24, Google announced they will spend $500,000 to create new monarch and other pollinator habitat through a grant to the Xerces Society and Peninsula Open Space Trust (POST). Google’s grant to POST in coordination with the Open Space Authority will help protect and restore hundreds of acres of important habitat south of San José in Coyote Valley.

"I am excited that with Google’s grant to POST, Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority will help protect Western monarch butterflies, a species that is in rapid decline and that has a beautiful legacy of fall migration; a migration that binds many countries," says Sergio Jimenez, District 2 Councilmember for the City of San José. "By adding more native milkweed and nectar plants, we can protect not only Monarch Butterflies, but many other pollinators and wildlife as well. I am proud that local entities are playing such critical roles on the world stage!”

Read Google's full blog post here.

Join Our Team!

Staff Photo - D-Neumann - 3-14-2019 - 1

Are you interested in joining our team at the Open Space Authority? Make sure to check the careers page of our website. We currently have a couple of part-time openings for Seasonal Open Space Aides, a full-time Educational Aide, and more coming soon!

Careers Page

Who Am I? Answer

gopher snake CMG

If you guessed gopher snake, you're correct! Snakes are ectothermic, which means they rely on their environment (and the sun) to regulate their body temperatures. So as temperatures rise, so can snake sighting on the trails.

Encountering snakes at the preserves might be startling, but visitors and native wildlife can safely coexist. To avoid unwanted encounters with wildlife, we recommend:

  • Staying on the trail
  • Watching your step
  • Leaving snakes alone
    (And they will likely return the favor)
  • If a snake is on the trail, be patient, and be prepared to turn back if the snake refuses to move and you can’t continue along the trail safely.

Read more summer safety tips here!

Photo Credits

  • Sierra Vista (Equity Lens) - Derek Neumann
  • Leave No Trace - Open Space Authority
  • Coyote Valley Well Installation - Teddy Miller
  • Palomino horse and Charlotte Graham - Open Space Authority
  • Gopher Snake at Coyote Valley Open Space Preserve - Charlotte Graham
  • Sunrise at Coyote Ridge (Transparency Certificate) - David Mauk
  • Child with bubbles - Open Space Authority
  • Western monarch butterfly - Open Space Authority
  • Open Space Authority Staff - Derek Neumann
Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority | 408.224.7476 |