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November 2019

Seizing a Once-in-a-Generation Opportunity to Preserve San Jose’s Last Chance Landscape, Coyote Valley

#57-Coyote-ValleyFaced with the threat of development for decades, North Coyote Valley at last has a new, greener future ahead. On November 6, the San Jose City Council unanimously approved the permanent protection of 937 acres of open space in North Coyote Valley through an innovative partnership between the Open Space Authority, Peninsula Open Space Trust (POST), and the City of San Jose. This landmark conservation transaction is a victory for permanently protecting wildlife habitat, natural floodplains, and water resources and builds a climate resilient future for the people of San Jose and the surrounding South Bay region.

Recognizing the important benefits that nature provides our communities, this unique public-private partnership focuses efforts on the protection of Coyote Valley’s vital natural infrastructure to benefit nature and people. When voters overwhelmingly passed Measure T in November 2018, it created an unparalleled opportunity to conserve and restore the South Bay’s largest remaining freshwater wetland, Laguna Seca, and significant undeveloped natural floodplains upstream of San Jose. Few conservation deals have been done at this scale, and San Jose is one of the first cities in the nation to significantly invest infrastructure funding in nature-based solutions to address flood risk reduction, water supply, and water quality benefits to its human and natural communities.

Located at the southern extent of San Jose city limits, North Coyote Valley is identified as the critical landscape linkage between the Santa Cruz and Diablo Mountain ranges, allowing wildlife to migrate and adapt to a changing climate. Learn how wildlife rely on this linkage in the article below. Additionally, strategic conservation in Coyote Valley will provide significant new opportunities for outdoor recreation and supports local agriculture.

Once the transactions are complete, the Authority will assume responsibility for managing, stewarding, and opening these lands. The Authority will coordinate with the City, POST, and other key stakeholders to lead a multi-year public planning process to define the future of Coyote Valley and open it to the public. During the planning process, the Authority will offer docent-led events and volunteer opportunities, so check out the article below to learn how you can get involved.

“We have a once in a lifetime opportunity to protect and restore this Last Chance Landscape for its open space benefits including helping to build a climate resilient future for our urban and natural communities,” says Andrea Mackenzie, General Manager for the Authority. “The Authority is honored to partner with the City and POST to deliver a greener future for Coyote Valley.”

coyote valley captureLearn more about this monumental conservation action here, or watch this video to hear from Andrea on the importance of this historic transaction in North Coyote Valley.

Community Connections: Artists of Coyote Valley

Community Connections highlights the many leaders, partners, and neighbors who make a difference in our community. This month we are featuring Obi Kaufmann, Donald Neff, and Edward Rooks, three artists finding creative inspiration in Coyote Valley.

Throughout history, nature has inspired art of all kinds. Today, the landscapes and wildlife native to our region continue to move local artists to create. One muse in particular is the breathtaking Coyote Valley.

Laguna-Seca-cropped“Coyote Valley is a great example of ‘wild California,’” says Bay Area-based author, illustrator, and naturalist, Obi Kaufmann. Earlier this year, Kaufmann worked with the Authority to create a series of five watercolor paintings featuring 20 plants and animals in different habitats in Coyote Valley. Kaufmann believes Coyote Valley offers our region the chance to promote sustainable habitats that support rare and endangered species, right there in the city limits of San Jose. “News often puts focus on all the ways we have ‘messed up’ native habitats,” he says, “but here in Coyote Valley we still have a chance to save much of it.”

donald neff coyote valleyAnother artist is using Coyote Valley both as a creative prompt and opportunity to share the importance of protecting these landscapes. San Jose-based artist Donald Neff recently launched his “Preserve Coyote Valley Quest,” a year-long effort to paint one work per month depicting scenes around the valley. “People don’t know the history of this region,” says Neff. “This is the last farmland around here; I think it should be preserved as long as we can keep it wild or in use for farming.” He’s currently about halfway through this project and has captured images of the valley’s rolling hills, dramatic cloud formations, and scenes of agriculture.

Other local artists make it part of their professional mission to share that joy of discovery in the hopes that it will inspire conservation. “My role as an artist is to communicate the importance of nature, the wonder of nature, and the beauty of exploration,” says local artist and art instructor, Edward Rooks. For more than a decade, Rooks has taught nature drawing and painting workshops across the world.

CoyoteValley2_PleinAirWatercolor_Rooks2019“I’ve always loved the Coyote Valley and have supported efforts to protect it from the very beginning,” he says. Over the past year, Rooks has been working with the Authority to teach plein air painting workshops in local parks and open space preserves, including Coyote Valley.

Learn more about these artists, and view more of their work here.

Discover, Volunteer, and Engage in the Vision for North Coyote Valley!

The Authority will manage and steward these 937 acres while also leading the development of a science-based planning process in partnership with the City of San Jose and POST to engage the community, key partners, and stakeholders in the designing and placemaking for a regional nature preserve, wildlife corridor, and greenway. 

We need YOUR help in creating this new vision for North Coyote Valley! Here are some ways you can get involved in the planning process:

BirdersDiscover North Coyote Valley through docent-led events
We are excited to provide opportunities to discover these new lands, including family walks, birdwatching events, educational activities, and more. Sign up for our Event Calendar and be one of the first to visit North Coyote Valley. Check out an upcoming Coyote Valley event in the side bar to the right.

Roll up your sleeves and Volunteer to help us manage, steward, and restore these open spaces
Our Land Stewards program will offer one of the best ways to get involved to help restore and ready the North Coyote Valley Conservation Area for public access. See the sidebar for an upcoming volunteer opportunity, and sign up to volunteer here.

Lend your voice and Engage in the North Coyote Valley visioning process
We want community input to help guide the planning process. Join our North Coyote Valley Management Plan mailing list to receive project updates and hear about opportunities to get involved.

Sign up for the Open Space Outlook Newsletter and get the latest Coyote Valley news
The best way to stay up-to-date on all the work we do, in North Coyote Valley and beyond, is by subscribing to our monthly email newsletter. Have a friend who would like to learn more about the Open Space Authority? Share this link, and encourage them to get involved!

Learning How Bobcats Move Through Coyote Valley

In the wake of rapid urban growth, environmentalists have long been fighting to maintain our region’s essential wildlife habitats. The Authority’s Coyote Valley Landscape Linkage report identifies North Coyote Valley as the critical landscape linkage between the Santa Cruz and Diablo Mountain ranges, allowing wildlife to migrate and adapt to a changing climate. It is the key link to connecting $3.5 billion of open space investments made in the adjoining mountains ranges where there are over one million acres of core habitat for wildlife, like the charismatic bobcat.

Week 21 B26The Coyote Valley Bobcat Habitat Preference and Connectivity Report was released last month, sharing new data on how bobcats move through Coyote Valley. From June 2017 to February 2018, researchers GPS-collared and monitored 26 bobcats in the valley. Bobcats were chosen as the focus species because they are highly-mobile and tend to roam long distances to find prey and mate, leaving them at risk of habitat fragmentation. Researchers used this radio collar data to model how bobcats select habitat and where and how they cross our developed landscapes.

The study provided advice on habitat restoration, the need to provide safe passage across roadways, and outreach to reduce rodenticide use. The data also validated the Authority’s Landscape Linkage vision of building a more connected landscape and restated the importance of cover for movement for animals like bobcats. It also highlighted Monterey Road as a significant barrier to animal movement. The Authority is working with local partners to identify and implement solutions to these issues, such as installing road underpasses and overpasses and restoring native landscapes that provide habitat for wildlife.

The North Coyote Valley acquisition secures this “last chance” wildlife linkage and provides opportunities to restore valley floor habitats and plan and implement wildlife crossing structures at key barriers. Protecting and restoring this connection for wildlife passage will reduce the threat of local extinction resulting from genetic isolation, particularly in the face of climate change and habitat loss.

Read more about the study’s findings and check out photos of the bobcats here.

Who Am I?

CR Coyote_OSA Archive

I am a member of the canine family, native to the Santa Clara Valley and found across much of North America. I have a grayish-brown or yellowish-grey coat with a white throat and belly. Look for me at dawn and dusk, or listen for my high-pitched yapping that can be heard up to 3 miles away! Who am I?


RCAN - Plant Hike - R.Horii - 11-25-18 - 11

Saturday, November 30
Rancho Cañada del Oro Open Space Preserve
4289 Casa Loma Road, Morgan Hill

Join the Authority for our annual post-holiday event! Have family in town? Tell them to take a hike—with us! Get outside and hike off your Thanksgiving meal with us. We have multiple events happening at this location for all ages and fitness levels!

Get your blood pumping with this moderate 4.3-mile hike!


Look for the birds and other wildlife that call this preserve home!


Use the free phone application iNaturalist to catalog every species we can find!


A kid-sized adventure around the Llagas Meadow Loop and Longwall Canyon Trail!


Volunteer Land Stewards Day

Laguna Seca-2

Saturday, November 23
10:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.
North Coyote Valley Conservation Area
Directions provided after registration

Come out to the Open Space Authority's newest property, the North Coyote Valley Conservation Area, to help us clean up this critical wildlife habitat and improve public access! We will be picking up trash from the meadows as well as flagging larger areas for more intense clean up.

The Open Space Authority provides all the necessary tools, safety equipment, and training for the day, as well as water, coffee, snacks, and lunch. 


Laguna Seca Bird Walk

Yellow-billed Magpie - BH - 1-30-2018 - 1

Saturday, December 14
8:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
North Coyote Valley Conservation Area
Directions provided after registration

Explore the seasonal wetland of Laguna Seca to look for the birds and other wildlife that call this preserve home. Laguna Seca is part of the North Coyote Valley Conservation Area, a brand-new property for the Authority, and is a haven for migratory and resident birds alike. Join us as we get one of the first looks into the diversity of this new property. We will be walking 4-5 miles on flat gravel roads, so please bring comfortable hiking shoes, water, sun protection, and layers for warmth. Don't worry if you don't have binoculars, we will have a pair for you to borrow. Heavy rain will cancel.


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


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

CR Coyote_OSA Archive-1-1

I am the coyote! Other names for me are American jackal, brush wolf, and prairie wolf. You can find me on all open space preserves, but you may need to look camouflaged coat can make me hard to spot!

Image Credits

Coyote Valley - Stephen Joseph 
A Restored Laguna Seca, Watercolor - Obi Kaufmann
Foggy Farming, Oil on canvas - Donald Neff
Coyote Valley, Watercolor - Edward Rooks
Birdwatchers - Jordan Plotsky
Bobcat - Galli Basson, Authority Staff

Coyote - Authority Archives
Hike Your Pie Off - Ron Horii, Authority Docent
Laguna Seca - Patty Eaton
Magpie - Beth Hamel
Sierra Vista Sunset - Cassie Kifer

Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority | 408.224.7476 |