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June 2019

Helping Wildlife Move Safely Through Coyote Valley

The roads and freeways we depend on to connect our communities pose one of the greatest threats to wildlife. Roads fragment wildlife habitat, create barriers to movement, and kill animals through vehicle collisions. Animals need to move freely in order to find mates, hunt, migrate, and spread to new areas. All of these activities are essential for wildlife to be able to share their genes and maintain population health. Roads are a major issue in Coyote Valley, one of the last remaining pathways that wildlife use to travel between protected lands in the Santa Cruz Mountains and the Diablo Range.

CVAL- Bobcat - Bill Adams - 11-25-19One of the Authority’s top priorities is to protect and restore the wildlife linkage between mountain ranges, and one of the major barriers in Coyote Valley is Monterey Road. A new report, Recommendations to Reduce Wildlife-Vehicle Collisions on the Monterey Road Corridor in Coyote Valley, offers several ways local governments can help lessen the risk to wildlife while also increasing the safety of people using Monterey Road. The City of San Jose has already implemented new wildlife crossing signage along Monterey Road to improve safety for both human and wildlife communities.

The report was prepared by the Santa Clara County Wildlife Corridor Technical Working Group’s Coyote Valley subcommittee. This team includes members from the Open Space Authority, Peninsula Open Space Trust, Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority, Valley Water, Pathways for Wildlife, Santa Clara County Parks, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, and other state and local organizations.

Read more about the new groundbreaking report here.

Celebrating the Beauty of Santa Clara Valley's Open Spaces: Photo Contest Winners!

To celebrate National Nature Photography Day on June 15, we asked photographers of all levels to send us their best shots of Santa Clara Valley's open spaces! The subjects of the photos were left to each photographer’s choosing; we only required that they depicted nature and were taken at an Authority open space preserve or an Authority-funded urban open space location.

And the response was amazing! We received so many beautiful photos of landscapes, plants, wildlife, and people enjoying the outdoors. Check out the winning photos below, and view the winners and honorable mentions here. We are so grateful to all photographers who participated! 

First Place: Sharla Oliveri | California Newt at Rancho Cañada del Oro Open Space Preserve

Sharla Oliveri - RCAN - 1

Second Place: Nicole Gittleson | Scenic Overlook at Coyote Valley Open Space Preserve

Nicole Gittleson - CVAL -2

Third Place: Rebecca Schoeneberger | Bobcat at Sierra Vista Open Space Preserve

Rebecca Schoeneberger - SVIS - 1

Preparing for Wildfire Season: How the Authority Works to Reduce Fire Risk

As the weather warms up, the Open Space Authority field team responsibilities shift to prepare for the summer season. In addition to getting the preserves ready for an increase in visitors, the team is beginning to prepare for the ever-growing threat of wildfires.

“We’re doing a lot of things right now to reduce the risks of wildfire,” said Derek Neumann, Field Operations Manager.

At normal intensity and speed, wildfires can be a natural and beneficial process to clear out old vegetation growth and allow for certain fire dependent plants to grow and evolve with changing plant and animal diversity. Unfortunately, urban adjacent wildfires are becoming increasingly more intense and fast-moving with longer droughts and rising temperatures due to climate change. California has seen a number of massive wildfires in the last few years causing catastrophic loss of life, homes, and livelihoods.

Fuel Break WorkWildfires are fueled by dry vegetation, particularly the fast-growing invasive plants that have taken hold of many of our landscapes. One of the field team’s primary tasks this time of year is to make sure this vegetation is trimmed down to stubble in key areas across the preserves, especially along roads that serve as both evacuation routes and where fires can be started by automotive sparks or inappropriately tossed cigarette butts. Field staff do this by mowing, manual hand-whipping, and even by moving herds of grazing cattle around to focus their feeding on high-risk areas. Cutting the grass back on these strips of land, or “fuel breaks,” creates large buffer zones that can stop fires from spreading across the road. The team also pays careful attention to mowing and whipping down additional buffer zones around all structures and utility poles, and in designated equipment staging areas and helicopter landing zones, so emergency crews can access the properties, if needed.

Learn more about the Authority's efforts to reduce the risk of destructive wildfires here, and read up on visitor safety tips here.

Urban Open Space and 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. 

GRPC - EE Field Trip - A-Pilon - 4-29-2019 -  87-1Hands-on, outdoor educational opportunities encourage students to take active roles in their learning, allowing them to make discoveries in new and exciting ways. But many children, especially those coming from disadvantaged or low-income backgrounds, face obstacles to connecting with nature in educational settings. For more than a decade, the Guadalupe River Park Conservancy has been introducing local students to nature by leading field trips along Downtown San Jose’s Guadalupe River, and into the park’s landmark rose garden.

With the support of the Authority’s Measure Q Environmental Education Grant Program, the Conservancy has developed a program where students take an active role in their learning by thinking like a scientist - observing phenomena and then asking questions get to the answers themselves, which is a shift from traditional passive and teacher-led models of learning. The program will serve approximately 3,000 students, mostly coming from urban and underserved districts and Title 1 schools where more than 80-90% of students meet the federal standards for free or reduced price lunch.

“There’s so much that I find rewarding about this program,” said Mel Sarmento, Education Program Manager for the Guadalupe River Parks Conservancy. “Every day we get to see ‘the awe’ and experience how excited the kids are to be outside."

Learn more about this amazing program here.

Who Am I?

Blazing Star wildflower - SD - 05-06-2014

I am a cheerful-looking wildflower that blooms in late spring. I can grow up to a foot tall and I produce many flowers that consist of five bright yellow petals surrounding centers full of stamen. My flowers open in the late afternoon sun. Who am I?

Join Us for Blair Ranch Self-Guided Access Weekends

Blair hike 06 - TCochrane - 2008

June 15 & 16  |  Hike
June 22 & 23  |  Mountain Bike
June 29 & 30  |  Hike & Horseback Ride
8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Rancho Cañada del Oro Open Space Preserve

This summer, the Open Space Authority will be opening up the currently by-reservation-only Blair Ranch portion of Rancho Cañada del Oro Open Space Preserve to members of the public for THREE self-guided special access weekends!

Blair Ranch features a mosaic of grasslands and oak woodlands, with beautiful views of the eastern Santa Cruz Mountains. The area’s natural communities support an abundance of rare plants and animals. Blair Ranch also boasts serpentine grasslands, a unique habitat type with plants and animals that are only found there.

The area offers over six miles of moderate and difficult trails to explore for avid and experienced hikers, bikers, and equestrians! Registration is required.


Check Out the Open Space Authority's New Instagram Account!


The Open Space Authority is now on Instagram! Follow us for spectacular shots of nature in Santa Clara Valley, and don’t forget to tag your photos with #openspaceauthority for the chance to be featured on our page!  

The Open Space Authority is Hiring!

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

Senior Open Space Planner
The Authority seeks a Senior Open Space Planner to connect people and communities to nature through open space public access planning. We are looking for a nimble, enthusiastic, and creative open space planning professional to execute a variety of open space planning and capital improvement projects.

Learn More

Legislative Specialist
The Authority seeks a Legislative Specialist to maximize the Authority’s work with community groups, government partners, and environmental policy at the local and state level.

Learn More

Explore Santa Clara Valley's Best Urban Bike Trails!

cdn2-hubspot-nethubfs2443326martial cottle-1

Did May’s unexpected rainstorms throw a wrench in your plans to enjoy cycling during Bike Month? Summer is quickly approaching, but the mild June weather that we often experience in the Santa Clara Valley is all the more reason to start biking, whether for commuting, exercise, or recreation.

Beyond just providing bike trails at our open space preserves, the Authority has provided more than $5M in grants to trail construction, connectivity projects, and support of bike-friendly areas through the Measure Q Urban Open Space and 20% Funding Grant Programs.

Explore our list of Authority-funded urban bike trails and bike-friendly parks to plan your perfect bicycle outing this month!

Who Am I? Answer

Blazing Star - Chia - Wildflowers - Sam Drake - May2014 (2)

I am the Blazing Star wildflower! Another name for me is Evening star. I grow well along rocky outcroppings, such as along the trails in Sierra Vista and Rancho Cañada del Oro open space preserves.

Photo Credits

Bobcat - Bill Adams, OSA Docent
Fire Break Management - Andy Burnside, OSA Staff
Guadalupe River Park Conservancy - Annamarie Pilon, OSA Staff
Blair Ranch - Tom Cochrane
Instagram - Annamarie Pilon, OSA Staff
Authority Staff - Derek Neumann, OSA Staff
Martial Cottle Bike Trail - OSA Archive
Blazing Star - Sam Drake

Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority | 408.224.7476 |