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May 2019

Saving and Restoring Santa Clara Valley’s Last Remaining Open Space

47637842622_a8c67c3eed_oIn the shadow of Levi’s Stadium and Santa Clara’s residential subdivisions and office parks, there’s a little sliver of open space along the Guadalupe River where wildlife roam and migratory birds stop as they travel along the Pacific Coast known as Ulistac Natural Area. This open space contains the last 40 acres of wild and undeveloped land in the City of Santa Clara. Ulistac is managed in a natural state, with no facilities or playing fields, just meandering trails and native vegetation, much of it planted by volunteers in an inspiring and successful example of open space protection and habitat restoration.

As far back as 1000 B.C., native people lived in this village near the San Francisco Bay. They called it “Ulistac,” which in the Ohlone language means the “place where baskets are woven” as a testament to the many trees and wild grasses that grew along the riverfront. Over the millennia, this parcel of land was developed for many uses, from farming to a golf course.

In the early 1990's, a group of grassroots activists united as “People for Open Space in Santa Clara” in a decades-long campaign dedicated to protecting this land from development and get the resources needed to restore its natural habitats. Over the years, hundreds of volunteers participated in this restoration work. In 1999, the Open Space Authority granted over $450,000 to fund two phases of improvements for the area.

Today, the area has been restored to successful, thriving native California habitats where 180 different species of birds and 10 thousand native trees, shrubs, herbs, and grasses are slowly but surely taking over from the ever-present danger of invasive species.

Read the rest of Ulistac's amazing comeback story here.

Urban Open Space Corner

When Measure Q was passed by voters in 2014, the Open Space Authority made a commitment to invest in nature within our communities and created the Measure Q Urban Open Space & Environmental Education Grant Programs. Here are two recent updates from funded programs.

valley verde - planting day 1Valley Verde
When the economic crisis hit back in 2008, Raul Lozano started to hear about the many families that were struggling not only to afford housing, but to afford food. As a member of the Santa Clara Master Gardeners, Lozano knew that one small garden bed could provide a family with almost all the produce they would need during peak growing seasons. He realized, though, that for people who had never grown a garden before, it could be hard to get started.

In 2012, Lozano founded Valley Verde, a nonprofit that helps low-income residents grow organic vegetables in their own yards. This 12-month training program provides families with all the supplies and training they need to grow fresh produce for a year. In 2018, the program was granted $45,000 as part of the Open Space Authority’s Measure Q Urban Open Space Grant Program. Since the program started, Valley Verde has helped more than 350 families in local food-insecure areas get started growing their own vegetables.

Read more about Valley Verde's community-focused efforts here.

Living Classroom
Environmental education can start at any age, and Living Classroom is helping to get kids in their earliest years of school outside to learn about science, our natural environment, and healthy food.

Garden of SensesThe organization has worked with six elementary schools within Campbell Unified School District to design and maintain native and edible gardens and/or to provide hands-on environmental education programs. The Authority has granted a combined $75,000 through the Measure Q Urban Open Space and Environmental Education Grant Programs to help fund these projects. This year alone, the program plans to teach 340 lessons serving more than 1,000 students in the district. 

Read more about Living Classroom here.

May is Bike Month!

Three Creeks Trail - Cyclist - L-Ames - 02-28-2014 - 7It hasn’t always been easy to get around Silicon Valley on a bicycle. As the urban area sprawled and shifted from a primarily agricultural region into a global hub for technology and innovation, cars were the vehicle that connected our many communities.

But thanks to decades of tireless work of local advocates who knew that biking was a healthy, equitable, and environmentally-friendly way to get around, the Bay Area has become a leader in protecting open space, providing infrastructure like bike lanes and bike-friendly trails, and connecting those paths to major destinations and transit. Whether you want to bike to school or work, or take a ride for exercise or fun, there are plenty of options available.

The Open Space Authority recognizes the value of biking to recreation, health, and sustainable transport. Beyond providing bike trails at our open space preserves, the Authority has committed more than $5M to trail construction, connectivity projects, and supporting bike-friendly areas through our Measure Q Urban Open Space and 20% Funding Grant Programs.

MartialCottle2017-P2251160The weather is warm and the rains have stopped, so now is a great time to explore getting around by bike. May is National Bike Month, which features many days to celebrate biking, like Bike to School Day on May 8 and Bike to Work Day on May 9.

Whether you are an experienced cyclist, just getting started, looking for mountain biking, urban bike trails, or family-friendly biking areas - our Guide to Biking in Santa Clara Valley and list of the Best Urban Open Space Bike Trails will help you have the best experience on two wheels this spring!

Community Connections: Les Krammer

We are introducing a series of the many leaders, partners, and neighbors who make a difference in our community. This profile features Les Krammer, docent for the Open Space Authority and volunteer for the University of California Cooperative Extension Master Gardeners Program of Santa Clara County.

When Les Krammer retired from his Hewlett-Packard job 10 years ago, he was looking for ways to give back to the local community. Living in the northeast corner of Morgan Hill, close to some of the Open Space Authority's protected lands, he soon discovered opportunities volunteering with the Authority in a variety of roles. As someone passionate about spending time outside hiking and biking, Les knew he could contribute by sharing his vast knowledge of the outdoors with others.

50766540_2175000259190151_6364638171094843392_oToday, Krammer splits his volunteer time with the Santa Clara County Master Gardeners Program, working at the organization’s largest property, Martial Cottle Park in San Jose. The site's plots feature seasonal crops and demonstrates to the community what plants grow best at different times of year and with different growing conditions. The Master Gardeners also allow visitors to view a variety of growing techniques - they can observe, ask questions, or try it for themselves.

The Master Garden Program has long held a parcel of land at Martial Cottle Park, but it used to be hard to teach public hands-on classes there. In 2017, the Open Space Authority granted $132,353 through the Measure Q Urban Open Space Grant Program to the Friends of the Master Gardeners, a partner of the Master Gardeners of Santa Clara County, in order to help build a pavilion and fund a greenhouse, which now hold year-round educational trainings and events.

Read the rest of Les' story here.

Who Am I?

CRID - Mount Hamilton Thistle - D-Mauk - Feb-24-2018 - 2

I am a very rare plant found only in a few areas of California, including the Santa Clara Valley. You can identify me by a thick, upright stem, spiny-lobed leaves, and white flowers that nod forward on their stalks. I belong to the same plant family as the artichoke. Who am I?

Photo Contest: Celebrating the Beauty of Santa Clara Valley’s Open Spaces

Sunrise in CV.Bill Adams

Submission deadline: Friday, May 24

To celebrate National Nature Photography Day this June 15, the Open Space Authority wants to see YOUR best shots of Santa Clara Valley's open spaces!

Head to one of our open space preserves or Authority-funded urban open spaces to capture the beautiful nature that surrounds us here in the Santa Clara Valley.

Winners will be featured in our June eNewsletter, our blog, and social media accounts. 

For contest rules, guidelines, and how to enter, visit our contest page.

Family Picnic Day at Little Uvas Creek


Saturday, May 18, 2019
10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.

Little Uvas Creek Preserve
16541-16905 Uvas Road, Morgan Hill

Join us for a fun-filled, family-friendly day at this picture-perfect preserve!

Little Uvas Creek is located in the southern Santa Cruz Mountains, just west of Morgan Hill. The area contains beautiful rolling hills, oak trees, and a pond full of frogs, fish, and other wildlife! Families can enjoy watercolor and finger painting, nature activities and crafts, a wildlife presentation -- or simply come to enjoy the beautiful outdoors together!


Save the Date!
Blair Ranch Self-Guided Access Weekends

Blair hike 06 - TCochrane - 2008

June 15-16 | Hiking
June 22-23 | Mountain Biking
June 29-30 | Hiking & Horseback Riding

Join us for three public-access weekends this June at Blair Ranch, a special area within Rancho Cañada del Oro Open Space Preserve. 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 including golden eagles, western pond turtles, and Bay checkerspot butterflies.

Stay tuned for additional event details and registration!

Who Am I? Answer

CRID - Mount Hamilton Thistle - D.Mauk - Feb-24-2018 - 2

I am the Mount Hamilton thistle. I grow in moist, serpentine soils, especially near streams and springs of water. Unlike some other thistle species found in the Santa Clara Valley, I am a true native, although my existence is threatened by factors such as urban development and human trampling. If you are lucky enough to spot me between March and October, you may see me blooming.

Photo Credits

Ulistac Natural Area - Erica Fleniken
Gardening - Valley Verde
Students in the Garden - Living Classroom
Woman on Bike - Liv Ames
Girl Biking - OSA Archive
Les Krammer - Ron Horii, OSA Docent
Mount Hamilton Thistle - David Mauk
Oak Tree - Bill Adams, OSA Docent
Little Uvas Pond - OSA Archive
Blair Ranch - Tom Cochrane, OSA Docent

Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority | 408.224.7476 |