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June 2020

Best Paved Trails in Santa Clara County

RCAN - Llagas Creek Loop - Mark Hehir - 2020-05-21-1Everyone in our community deserves access to nature and its benefits, regardless of age or physical mobility. As part of its core mission, the Open Space Authority is always looking for opportunities to make our preserves more accessible by providing paved trail segments with easy access to parking areas, and by awarding Urban Grants to fund urban and neighborhood trail expansions and accessibility improvements. Check out some of our favorite paved, wheelchair-, walker-, and stroller-accessible trails in Authority-funded parks and other open spaces across Santa Clara County.

Llagas Creek Loop - Rancho Cañada del Oro Open Space Preserve - 0.6 miles
This 0.6 mile loop meanders through a meadow teeming with wildlife such as wild turkeys and deer. Watch the glistening creek at a wheelchair-accessible picnic table under huge oaks and California walnut trees, and in the spring months, enjoy abundant wildflowers.

Penitencia Creek Trail - 1 mile
An Authority-funded section of the Penitencia Creek Trail follows one of the few urban creeks in the county that flows through its natural channel, offering visitors a chance to observe a riparian ecosystem.

Coyote Creek Trail - 19 miles
This is one of the longest trail systems in the Santa Clara Valley, stretching from downtown San Jose to Morgan Hill and traveling through different habitats, from open grasslands to shaded groves.

Martial Cottle Park - 2.4+ miles
Along with providing land for farming and educational activities, Martial Cottle Park also features a 2.4-mile paved trail encircling the park, with additional paved paths that meander through the park’s beautiful landscapes.

Los Gatos Creek Trail - 11 miles
This popular trail runs from San Jose through Campbell and Los Gatos,
following the Los Gatos Creek through three main parks and past ponds, shady areas, and urban and residential neighborhoods.

Learn more about these trails and others, and explore other resources for trail accessibility here.

Santa Clara County and Authority Approve $5M Funding Agreement to Preserve Agricultural Land

south county farmlandIn a time where appreciating and protecting our working lands is more important than ever, the Authority is honored to announce that the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors has approved a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Authority that facilitates a one-time allocation of $4.9M for the purchase of agricultural conservation easements in the Coyote Valley and San Martin areas. The MOU builds on a strong partnership between the County and Authority in developing the Santa Clara Valley Agricultural Plan (Ag Plan).

“Today’s action by the Board of Supervisors is a tremendous step for the environment and our entire community,” said Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors President Cindy Chavez. “This agreement with the Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority and commitment of almost $5 million towards land acquisition will preserve many acres of priceless agricultural and greenbelt land from future development.”

The Ag Plan, adopted by the Board of Supervisors in January 2018, provides a toolkit of policies and programs designed to address climate change by protecting the loss of remaining viable farmland and rangeland on the Valley floor between San Jose and Gilroy. In the past 30 years alone, Santa Clara County has lost close to fifty percent of its farmland and 28,000 acres remain vulnerable to development. In collaboration with farmers and ranchers, agricultural organizations, and local, regional, and state agencies, the County and Authority secured a grant from the State’s Sustainable Agricultural Land Conservation Program (SALC) to develop the Ag Plan to slow the loss of the Valley’s agricultural land base as a climate change strategy and help ensure a safe and reliable food supply for the future.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us just how fragile our national food supply chain is, and how many of us in Santa Clara County may find ourselves needing food assistance during a major crisis or economic disruption. This is why it is vital we maintain a robust local agricultural sector. Today’s action will help ensure that,” said Chavez.

Santa Clara County's working lands have tremendous economic value and provide many natural infrastructure benefits, including buffering urban areas from the impacts of storms and wildfires, lessening downstream flooding, recharging our drinking water aquifers, and providing valuable habitat for wildlife.

“This funding partnership bolsters resilience of our urban communities by protecting our nearby natural and working lands,” said Andrea Mackenzie, Authority General Manager. “Investing in nature-based solutions is a sound insurance policy to protect our environment and communities in the face of both a climate crisis and global pandemic.”

The dedication of County funds meets the local required match for $15M in SALC grant funds from the State and increases the County and Authority’s resources to protect at-risk agricultural land in two of the County’s most vulnerable farmland areas – Coyote Valley and San Martin. The County’s contribution will also be matched by funding from the Authority and other public and private funding sources.

The Authority is grateful for the Board of Supervisors bold action to help fund strategic agricultural conservation actions called for in the award-winning Ag Plan, including reducing development and greenhouse gas emissions, supporting climate-smart agricultural practices, and strengthening agricultural viability in Santa Clara County.

Urban Open Space Corner: Restoring One of California's Oldest Adobes

Driving north along Piedmont Road along the suburban east hills of Milpitas you might not know that an important part of local history is right in your midst. The Alviso Adobe and city park is tucked into a residential cul de sac on Piedmont Road just south of Calaveras. Surrounded by modern structures, this 175-year-old farmhouse is considered the oldest continuously occupied adobe in California and the last intact example of Monterey Colonial-style architecture.

Alviso Adobe before and afterThe original adobe was built in 1835 and passed down through generations of families and other owners until the City of Milpitas obtained the land in 1996. “When the city first acquired it, it was a pile of weeds and the house was in shambles,” Julie Waldron, project engineer for the City of Milpitas. The city started on immediate restoration work and built plans to expand the property and turn it into a city park. In December 2005, the Authority contributed $356,837 toward the restoration project as part of the 20% Urban Grant Program. In 2013, Alviso Adobe Park opened, complete with a newly planted fruit orchard, picnic tables, restored outbuildings, and interpretive signs highlighting the farming and ranching done onsite over the years. 

The city is currently in the final phase of this momentous project - restoring the interior of the historic home, which it expects to open to visitors in late 2021. In the meantime, the park itself is a nice place to visit for a picnic or a homeschool field trip, to get a glimpse into what life was like here in the Santa Clara Valley in years past.

Read more about this project here.

Who Am I?

badger blur-1

Hard to spot, I am nocturnal, solitary, and spend much of my time underground. You’ll know if you see me though — I am brownish, with short legs, an angular face, and a distinctive white stripe that stretches from my nose to the top of my head. Who am I?

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

Join us out on the OpenRoad!

#50 Coyote Valley-1

Tune in on June 13, as the Authority is joined by San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo and San Jose City Councilmember Sergio Jimenez on NBC Bay Area’s OpenRoad with Doug McConnell!

Learn about our work to plan and design an unparalleled open space preserve in the recently protected North Coyote Valley, a place to protect and restore wildlife and water resources, connect people to nature, and provide lasting climate resilience benefits. We'll also explore how keeping our parks and open spaces open to the public during COIVD-19 has provided an invaluable service for maintaining mental and physical health during the shelter-in-place order.

This episode will air on Sunday, June 14 at 6:30 p.m. on NBC Bay Area. Mark your calendars!

Connecting to Opportunities: Vacancies on the Citizens' Advisory Committee

CVAL - Landscape - D.Neumann - Apr-08-2017 - 5-2-1

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. Apply by July 2, 2020!

Learn More

Who Am I? Answer

SVIS - Badger - D-Turner - 2020-03-30 - 1-1

Count yourself lucky if you spy me - I am a badger! Badgers are skillful diggers and mostly nocturnal. They spend much of their time underground to catch prey but also to sleep during the day. American badgers, like the ones found in California, live throughout much of the U.S. 

Photo Credits

Llagas Creek Loop - Mark Hehir
Santa Clara County Agriculture - Derek Neumann, Authority Staff
Alviso Adobe - Authority Archives
Badger - Daniel Turner, Authority Staff
Students in Garden - Living Classroom
North Coyote Valley - Stephen Joseph
Coyote Valley Trail - Derek Neumann, Authority Staff

Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority | 408.224.7476 |