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March 2021

California and U.S. Executive Orders Set 30 by 30 Climate Goals

Last year was certainly challenging, in more ways than any of us could have anticipated. But, Governor Newsom’s recent Executive Order N-82-20, now referred to as 30 by 30, is one reason to be optimistic. This order has committed California to conserve 30 percent of its land and coastal waters by 2030. This has also inspired President Biden to declare an ambitious federal 30 by 30 executive order. During this groundbreaking moment, the Open Space Authority and our partners see these policies as opportunities to gain momentum and keep pushing forward with the work we are already doing to protect our natural and working lands as key climate-resilience infrastructure.

Issued in the fall of 2020, the State’s 30 by 30 Executive Order aims to conserve at least 30 percent of California’s land and coastal waters by 2030 which could have a significant impact on protecting the rapidly declining biodiversity of California’s ecosystems.

NCV - Sunrise - D.Neumann - 12-24-19 - 2 - sized

The Open Space Authority has been working towards these goals for some time, with the Coyote Valley Conservation Program Area serving as a model for what 30 by 30 aims to inspire in other areas around the state. Coyote Valley is home to a dynamic ecosystem and benefits both wildlife and human communities alike with its critical wildlife linkages, rich cultural history, water resources, recreational opportunities, and active farms and ranches. By continuing to pursue the Authority’s primary goal of conserving and protecting natural and working lands, we are excited to be an important part of this ambitious state goal.

The Open Space Authority has protected over 28,000 acres throughout the South Bay and has worked with our dedicated conservation partners to protect over 12,000 acres in the greater Coyote Valley. Conserving our region’s natural and working lands advances the Authority’s mission and strategic conservation goals, including protection of water, habitat, and agriculture, while increasing climate resilience and equity throughout our region.

“The Open Space Authority is demonstrating the power of working together, across landscapes and partners to achieve multi-benefit conservation outcomes,” says Jennifer Norris, California Natural Resources Deputy Secretary for Biodiversity and Habitat and the State’s lead on 30 by 30. “Coyote Valley serves as a real-world example of how to meet our 30 by 30 goals of protecting biodiversity, promoting climate resilience and advancing equitable access for all.”

This work has been made possible by the overwhelming support received from South Bay voters through the passage of the Authority’s Measure Q in 2014. This critical local funding has allowed us to improve parks, open spaces, and trails, protect local water supply and wildlife habitat, provide equitable public access to nature, including in the urban core, enhance environmental education for the community, support sustainable agriculture, and much more. With the passage of Measure T by 81% of the vote this past November, voters again demonstrated their continued support for the Authority’s work to protect our region’s rich ecology and contribute to California’s - and now the nation’s - larger conservation goals.

In January, President Biden followed California’s lead and signed an executive order to commit the entire country to the goals set forth in 30 by 30. It’s clear that climate change is upon us and is already having devastating effects on disadvantaged communities. A dedicated, cooperative global effort is needed, and much of this work can and must begin at the local level. The Authority is more motivated than ever to create meaningful change through our conservation and community investment work. We stand ready to do our part in bringing 30 by 30 to life!


Best Regards,
Andrea Mackenzie, General Manager

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A Beginner's Guide to Hiking

RAW-00_53_35_12-Still006-1-1Hiking is one of the most beneficial leisure activities you can do! It’s outdoors, it’s a great opportunity to spend time with people, and it’s a fun way to work up a sweat. However, it can be a struggle getting out onto the trail and, when you’re new to it, it can be even harder to take those first steps.

As part of our effort to connect everyone with nature, we’ve created a quick guide to help break down barriers and make hiking the accessible activity it should be. And with wildflower season quickly approaching, there's no better time to take the plunge and spend some time enjoying the beauty that Santa Clara Valley has to offer.

When first starting your hiking trip, remember safety is most important – and is often why hiking can be an intimidating adventure. Once you assure your safety, the rest will come much easier. The Authority’s trails are all quite safe and well maintained, however, any time spent in nature brings with it inherit risks. Simply being prepared will minimize these risks and make your trip easier, more relaxing, and more enjoyable.

Read our list of quick tips to ensure your safety on the trails and make for a great day here.

Cities of the Future: New Report Highlights Green Urban Planning

Albertson Parkway - R-Horii - 5-13-2011 - 8The impacts of climate change are intensifying rapidly and, as populations continue to grow, there is an increasing need to make our cities more adaptable to the needs of the future. In partnership with the Open Space Authority and SPUR, the San Francisco Estuary Institute (SFEI) has released a report highlighting the urban planning strategies that can address these needs, and the City of San Jose is considering implementing them. The report, Integrating Planning with Nature, released by SFEI late last year, outlines actions and nature-based solutions for cities to adopt to realize their vision of a safe and sustainable future.

“This report shows that open space is so much more than just ‘nice to have,” said Jake Smith, Conservation GIS Coordinator at the Authority, and a co-author of the report. “It’s an absolute necessity that has real, measurable benefits for surrounding communities.”

Nature-based solutions involve using natural infrastructure like trees, greenspace, wetlands, to provide services like stormwater management, carbon storage, and water filtration, just to name a few. The report outlines a multitude of nature-based solutions, and includes a Toolkit clearly defining them.

Implementation of the report’s findings are already coming to fruition. Last month, the City of San Jose advanced a draft Urban Greening Implementation Plan to be proposed in the City’s priority setting process. This plan would incorporate equity-focused, city-wide urban greening improvement projects into the City’s annual priority-setting process. If adopted as a priority by the City Council, staff will move forward with identifying and planning projects that will implement these nature-based solutions.

Planning for climate resilience and minimizing the impact our cities have on the planet has never been more urgent. While there is much work to be done, these developments make resilient, green urban design less theoretical, and perhaps serve as a glimpse into cities of the future.

Read more about this new report here.

New Report Advances Authority's Priority for Protecting Grasslands

2016_SV OSP__DSC3349_May 22, 2016-1-1Grasslands across North America are declining rapidly and with them, grassland birds, which are declining at a higher rate than any other group of birds across the continent. California is home to a considerable amount of grassland and oak savanna ecosystems, two of which – Sierra Vista and Diablo Foothills – are managed by the Authority. These habitats are of high ecological value, as they support a variety of rare and common bird species and contain healthy soil. Stewarding what’s left of these habitats must be an absolute priority. Monitoring these landscapes to maintain their wellbeing is a way to evaluate our stewardship practices.

At the end of last year, Point Blue Conservation Science released a report on the findings from recent monitoring done in two Open Space Authority preserves – Sierra Vista and Diablo Foothills. The data was gathered as part of the Rangeland Monitoring Network, a statewide effort to look at the trends on rangelands, or open country often used for grazing, and gather data to help inform land management practices.

While the Authority already monitors its rangelands, the Rangeland Monitoring Network provides a more comprehensive approach. The study looks at long-term trends, as well as soil, vegetation, and bird data, and it delivered promising results. Both preserves combined were home to six breeding grassland focal species, two of which are of special concern. Additionally, both preserves are home to the rapidly declining Wintering Burrowing Owl, another species of concern that depends on grasslands.

The study’s findings will help the Authority learn about the ecological health of its rangelands and assess its land management practices, provide a good baseline dataset for future studies, and contribute to the Network’s statewide dataset. The data gathered from this research will also help to ensure that the Authority’s use of grazing as a land management tool continues to be responsible and effective.

Read more about the report and its findings here.

Who Am I?

CRID - Great Blue Heron - D-Mauk - Mar-30-2018 - 1-1-1

I am a common wading bird found in both freshwater and saltwater wetland habitats as well as in grasslands and agricultural fields. Most people can recognize me easily by my long neck, greyish-blue feathers, a long orange-yellow bill, and dark head plumes. My large size also makes me hard to miss – I can grow up to 4.5 ft tall with over a 6 ft wingspan! Who am I?

Silicon Valley Reads: Connecting with Nature in a Pandemic


Thursday, March 18  |  3:00 p.m.
Virtual Event

What has the impact of the pandemic been on the environment? What happens when there is a confluence of climate change, racial tensions, and a pandemic? Hear from David Yarnold, President of National Audubon Society and the Open Space Authority’s very own General Manager Andrea Mackenzie for this important conversation. Learn ways we can all be more connected to the environment!

This is event is in partnership with Santa Clara County Office of Education, Santa Clara County Library District, San Jose Public Library, and the Commonwealth Club of Silicon Valley.


Open Space Flower Frenzy: Vote in our March Wildflower Bracket!

Flower Bracket-2021

We’ve all heard of March get ready for FLOWER FRENZY! Join us this March for a wildflower-themed tournament to find out which species is the true favorite – while learning about native California flowers! Every week on the Open Space Authority's Facebook page, we’ll host several face-offs between two wildflowers, along with fun facts about each species. Vote for your favorite, and see which species advances to the next round.

At the end of month, we’ll crown this year’s floral favorite, the 2021 Wildflower Winner!

Will the popular California Poppy be the champion? Or an underdog like Hound's Tongue? Perhaps Blazing Star is this year’s rising star! It’s up to YOU.

You do not need a Facebook account to participate. Check the bracket page below to cast your vote each day!

View the Bracket!

Save the Date: Diablo Foothills Public Access Weekend

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Saturday & Sunday, April 24 & 25
Diablo Foothills Preserve

To celebrate Earth Day, the Open Space Authority will be opening the currently by-reservation-only Diablo Foothills Preserve just south of Gilroy to members of the public for one special-access weekend! Diablo Foothills is an 819-acre undeveloped preserve with rolling hills, oak grasslands, ponds, creeks and a variety of trails for all fitness levels and abilities. This special-access weekend will also offer visitors the unique opportunity to witness the regrowth of a natural area after wildfire.

Mark your calendars for this special event!

Who Am I? Answer

CRID - Great Blue Heron - D-Mauk - Mar-30-2018 - 1-1

I am the Great Blue Heron! A truly adaptable bird, I am found across California as well as throughout most of North and Central America, from Alaska and Canada down to Florida and the Caribbean. You can spot these herons wading slowly through water or standing stock still, waiting for prey to pass by. If you’re lucky, you might spot one spearing its victim with its long bill!

Photo Credits

Laguna Seca - Derek Neumann, Authority Staff
Hikers - Alex Roa, TOPO Collective
Albertson Parkway - Ron Horii, Authority Volunteer
Sierra Vista Grassland - Derek Neumann, Authority Staff
Great Blue Heron - David Mauk, Authority Staff
Diablo Foothills - Stephen Joseph

Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority | 408.224.7476 |