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March 2020

Celebrating Native Species on California Wildlife Day

img-evbuc-comhttpscdn-evbuc-comimages9091016310532797061original-20200204-203819Did you know there is a state holiday to celebrate California wildlife? In 2017, California Wildlife Day was established to raise awareness of native species and the need to protect habitat. The holiday is celebrated each year on the Spring Equinox (March 21 this year).

How are we celebrating California wildlife in 2020?
Permanently protecting land is the main way the Authority works to protect native habitat. This past year, the Authority worked with partners at the City of San Jose and Peninsula Open Space Trust (POST) to permanently protect 937 acres of open space in North Coyote Valley. As the vital link between the Santa Cruz Mountains and Diablo Range, Coyote Valley is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to connect and restore habitat so wildlife can move between the mountain ranges.

Celebrate California Wildlife Day with us in North Coyote Valley!
Join us on Saturday, March 21 to celebrate our local wildlife! This special celebration will take place at the Laguna Seca seasonal wetland, part of the newly protected North Coyote Valley Conservation Area. The free, family-friendly event will have something for everyone: docent-led walks and activities, arts and crafts, speaker workshops, a live animal presentation, and more. Visit the event page for a detailed schedule and to register.

Register for California Wildlife Day!

Learn more about California Wildlife Day here.

Community Connections: Tanya Diamond

Community Connections highlights the many leaders, partners, and neighbors who make a difference in our community. This month we are featuring Tanya Diamond, wildlife ecologist and co-principal of Pathways for Wildlife.

Did you see last month's viral video of a coyote and badger playing together? It spread around social media and was picked up by outlets including CNN, National Geographic, and Late Night with Steven Colbert. (If you missed it, check it out. Or watch it again!)

Tanyas Bio Picture-1

What many Bay Area viewers might have missed is the fact that this endearing video was captured right here in the Santa Cruz Mountains by local wildlife ecologist, Tanya Diamond, and her partners working on behalf of POST. For nearly a decade, Diamond has been recording wildlife activity on the edge of our urban communities. Her research firm, Pathways for Wildlife, studies wildlife movement to help public agencies and landowners come up with ways to help animals move safely through our environment.

Since 2011, Diamond and her research partner and co-principal, Ahiga Snyder, have worked with agencies from Sonoma County down to Big Sur to collect data on wildlife, including photos and video that document their movement. They’ve partnered with the Authority on several projects, including the Authority’s cornerstone Coyote Valley Landscape Linkage report, a recent study of how bobcats move through Coyote Valley, and recommendations to reduce wildlife-vehicle collisions on Monterey Road.

“Coyote Valley has always been one of my number-one conservation interests, and (the recent protection of the area) will be a flagship," says Diamond, "This year the Open Space Authority and POST taught me that nothing is impossible.”

Diamond will be presenting a workshop on wildlife linkages at the Authority's upcoming California Wildlife Day event on Saturday, March 21! Register here.

Read the rest of her story here.

Helping Reptiles and Amphibians Move Through Coyote Valley

To guide efforts in restoring and conserving open space, the Authority regularly supports research that helps us understand local wildlife and how they live in and move across landscapes. In Coyote Valley, one of the Authority’s priority conservation areas, there have been extensive efforts to research mammal movement, but less attention has been paid to how other critical species use and move through this landscape. Until now...

The Authority just released the results of the Coyote Valley Reptile and Amphibian Linkage Study, a nine-month examination of three native, threatened species: the California red-legged frog, California tiger salamander, and Western Pond Turtle. All three species rely on aquatic habitats like creeks, streams, and wetlands for all or part of their life, environments that have been increasingly lost or fragmented by development and competition from invasive species.

John Cleckler CTW (USFW)In this study, researchers identified opportunities to improve habitat and dispersal, making it easier for these species to move across the region and find mates from other breeding groups, which improves genetic diversity and long-term health of their populations. Researchers looked at the existing habitat of the species, identifying areas that provide suitable habitat, where they’ve been spotted before, and potential breeding sites. They then mapped the most likely pathways the three focal species would take to move across the Valley. The report offered several recommendations local conservation partners can implement to improve and restore the quality of habitat and movement pathways for these three rare species in Coyote Valley.

“Protecting the viability of rare, threatened, and endangered species such as the three identified by this study is a high priority for the Authority,” says Galli Basson, Resource Management Specialist. “This study has shown that restoring native habitat in Coyote Valley can help to expand the range of these and other native species.”

Learn more about this brand-new report here.

Urban Open Space Corner: Findings from the Santa Clara County Food System Alliance 

Through the Urban Grant Program, the Open Space Authority has made a commitment to Investing in Nature within our communities. Check out this recent update from one organization supported by us!

While there are many challenges to small-scale farming in a fast-growing, urban region like the Santa Clara Valley, a new report, Small Farms, Big Potential: Growing a Resilient, Local Food System, by the Santa Clara County Food System Alliance, makes the case that farming is both economically feasible and a crucial part of our community and economy. The report was funded in part by $24,999 from the Authority's Urban Grant Program.

Sam and Nick in the field“I think this work will help educate people in Santa Clara County about how important agriculture is,” says Leslie Gray, Professor of Environmental Studies and Sciences at Santa Clara University and one of the lead authors on the report. “Many see agriculture as part of our past, but they don’t see it as something that could be part of our future.”

The report shares the findings from interviews with new and small-scale local farmers in the Santa Clara Valley to understand the challenges they face and includes an examination of what other urban-adjacent agricultural regions, such as Marin County and the Sacramento Valley, have done to foster small-scale agriculture. The report also presents recommendations for how policymakers can make the Santa Clara Valley more hospitable to farming and increase small farm viability, including facilitating access to and permanently preserving farmland, making land affordable to small farmers, and investing in land conservation and climate-smart practices.

Learn more about this new report here.

Who Am I?

Kim quail question

I am a plump bird with a small head and bill, and I have a pattern of white, creamy, and chestnut scales on my belly. I spend most of my time on the ground foraging for food, but I can also fly in short, explosive bursts if I need to reach cover quickly. I am easily recognizable by my distinctive "topknot" curl of feathers that projects off my forehead. Every Californian should know me - I'm the official State bird, after all! Who am I?

Open Space Authority
Urban Grant Program Opening Soon!

Bills Backyard Grand Opening 2

The Open Space Authority Urban Grant Program, funded by Measure Q, addresses the needs of urban communities, including areas that currently have limited access to preserves and parks. The grant program aims to fund projects that help connect people to the outdoors in their own neighborhoods through nearby parks, trails, urban community gardens, and environmental education programs.

The upcoming cycle of the Urban Grant Program will be open on March 9, 2020! Sign up to receive notifications for grant updates here.

Learn More

Welcome to Wildflower Season!

Coyote Ridge OSP - California Poppy - CH - APR-26-2012 - 22

From common California poppies, to rare species like the most beautiful jewelflower, join us in welcoming springtime’s most colorful guests to our open spaces! 

We’ll be hosting wildflower activities throughout March and early April. Space is limited at most of these events, so check out our events calendar and register when required.

In addition to our organized events, don’t forget that you can experience wildflowers on your own time, any day of the week, by visiting our three public open space preserves.

Learn more about the best places to see wildflowers in our open space preserves, and be sure to download our Come Discover Nature Guidebook, a free guide to the diverse plants and wildlife in our preserves.

Where to View Wildflowers

Vacancy on the Open Space Authority's Measure Q Expenditure Oversight Committee

CVAL - Landscape - D.Nuemann - 03-18-2015 - 40-1

Do you love nature and numbers? Do you believe open space lands are essential to community health and well-being? If so, the Measure Q Expenditure Oversight Committee might be the perfect volunteer role for you! This seven-member committee provides public oversight for all funds collected and allocated by Measure Q. Each member contributes unique talents including an understanding of budgets and audit reports.

Learn More

Who Am I? Answer

Kim quail

I am the California Quail! You can find me in chaparral, sagebrush, oak woodlands, and the foothill forests of California. I live and travel in groups called coveys, which usually consist of eight to more than 20 birds. Look for me at Coyote Valley and Rancho Cañada del Oro open space preserves. Listen for my call that consists of three loud syllables and sounds like "ka-kah-ko" or "Chi-ca-go"!

Photo Credits

Bobcat - Derek Neumann, Authority Staff
Tanya Diamond - Tanya Diamond, Pathways for Wildlife
California Tiger Salamander - John Cleckler, U.S. Department of Fish & Wildlife
Farmers in the Field - Jenn Thorp, Spade & Plow
California Quail - Kim Cabrera, Authority Volunteer
Bill's Backyard Students - Alisha Maniglia, Authority Staff
California Poppies - Cait Hutnik, Authority Volunteer
Coyote Valley Hillside - Derek Neumann, Authority Staff

Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority | 408.224.7476 |