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September 2019

Restoring Habitat for Rare Amphibians at Coyote Ridge

California Tiger Salamander

Over the years, loss of habitat has caused the decline of many amphibian species, including our native frogs and salamanders. However, in the midst of decreasing habitat, ranch lands have become a vital aide for conservation of rare amphibians because they remain undeveloped and wildlife rely on the many ponds that ranchers have built for their herds over the years.

The Open Space Authority and the Santa Clara Valley Habitat Agency are restoring two former ranch stock ponds in the Authority’s Coyote Ridge Open Space Preserve. Due to a damaged dam and spillway, neither reservoir has been able to hold sufficient water since before the Authority took ownership of the property back in 2015. Hopefully, the restored ponds will provide additional breeding habitat for the threatened California tiger salamander and California red-legged frog. Both species currently breed in other ponds in the preserve and have been documented in these particular ponds in the past.

Coyote Ridge Stock Pond 2016

The Habitat Agency provided funding for this project and will monitor and maintain these ponds into the future. This partnership allows the Authority to focus staff and resources on restoring other priority ponds on other Authority lands, such as those in Rancho Cañada del Oro Open Space Preserve. “Partnerships are vital to accomplishing regional restoration actions because they allow us to leverage resources and meet common goals of increasing habitat for rare species,” says Galli Basson, Resource Management Specialist at the Open Space Authority.

Construction on the ponds began on August 5 and is expected to wrap up in early October. Stay tuned for more information and updates as we learn whether these species make use of this new habitat! Read the whole story and view project photos here.

Open Space Authority Volunteers Bring Nature to the Community

Community Outreach Booth

“Welcome! Bienvenido! 歡迎! Chào mừng!”

Recognizable by a cheery yellow banner inviting visitors in four languages, the Open Space Authority’s community outreach booth is hard to miss, drawing in neighbors young and old to learn about nature at local festivals and events.

While the Open Space Authority is out in the community year-round, the fall brings a flurry of seasonal events. A small and dedicated team of volunteers attends as many of these events as possible to spread the word about open space protection. They hand out literature and trail maps, play educational games with kids, and share their knowledge of the Authority’s preserves, initiatives, and events.

Community Outreach Booth“The outreach booth is a great way to introduce people to the Open Space Authority,” said Paul Billig, who has been volunteering for the Authority for the last ten years, representing the Authority at several local events. “Many residents don’t realize what a wonderful resource they have available to get out and enjoy the great outdoors.”

The efforts of our Outreach Volunteers are making a difference according to another long-time volunteer, Denise Acomb. “Over the last six years, I've noticed fewer booth visitors saying, ‘I never knew you existed,’ or, ‘I didn't know those trails were there.’ It seems our community outreach is successfully reaching more people.”

We will be attending several events in the community this fall, including Santa Clara Art and Wine (September 14-15), Taste of Morgan Hill (September 28-29), Martial Cottle Harvest Festival (October 5), and the Youth Science Institute’s 34th Annual Wildlife Festival (October 6). Please come and say hello!

Read more about our amazing Community Outreach volunteers here.

Join the team!

We welcome new volunteers to join the Community Outreach team to share information about our open space preserves and lead educational activities at upcoming events this fall! No experience is needed, just a willingness to share your love of nature with your neighbors. All new volunteers are paired with a more experienced volunteer and/or staff member to be a resource during the event.

Interested? Fill out our volunteer application form here (select “Community Outreach” under Volunteer Roles) and one of our team members will be in touch with more information.

Urban Open Space and Environmental Education Corner

The Open Space Authority has made a commitment to Investing in Nature within our communities through our grant programs, which have already awarded $2.8 million in funding to dozens of organizations making a difference here in the Santa Clara Valley. Here is a recent update from one organization supported by an Authority grant.

La Mesa Verde

Sacred Heart Community Servicea San Jose-based organization, offers a wide variety of programs to support low-income families and individuals in high-cost Silicon Valley. One such program, La Mesa Verde (LMV), began in 2009 as a way to promote a sustainable source of fresh food for participants who often live in neighborhoods where fresh food is either unavailable or too expensive. The program provides supplies for participants to set up two raised garden beds with seasonally-appropriate plants and drip irrigation systems. After the garden is set up, students participate in an 11-month garden educational program and are paired with an experienced mentor who provides advice and ongoing motivation.

Each year the program engages 125 active households and feeds more than 500 total family members. In just one year, the participating gardeners grew over 11,000 pounds of organic produce valued at over $50,000!

Beyond providing this route to fresh food, LMV has another valuable purpose. It uses food as a tool to help organize stronger communities by introducing them to their neighbors and developing their leadership abilities in committees where they are invited to teach and share their skills and are provided with additional educational support to help them grow their confidence and teaching skills. The Open Space Authority’s Grant Program has supported this education and participatory skills development program with a $24,971 grant to fund curriculum development, staffing, and workshop costs.

“We see the garden as a vehicle for social change,” says Jacqueline Rivera, La Mesa Verde’s Organizing Manager. “Gardening impacts community members in so many ways beyond physical health. There’s social health! ...It helps to know you are connected and part of something.”

Read more about La Mesa Verde here.

Who Am I?

Garter Snake

I am a common reptile found throughout most of California, including here in the Santa Clara Valley! With a sharp eye, you might be able to see me quickly slithering through the grass, although I am well camouflaged with vertical stripes of yellow, red, black, and/or white. Who am I?

September Oak and Gall Walk!

Oak Tree

Sunday, September 15
9:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
Coyote Valley Open Space Preserve
550 Palm Avenue, Morgan Hill

Begin your morning with a family-friendly nature walk! Join us in partnership with Saved By Nature for this fun and engaging late-summer walk through the beautiful oak trees of Coyote Valley. Learn all about the various oak species and their fascinating galls. What’s a gall? Come and find out! All are welcome. Learn more and register below. 


All About Trails: Trail Masters Info Hike!

SVIS - Trail Masters - M.Chesebrough - 5-11-19 - 1-5

Saturday, September 22
9:00 a.m. - 11:00 a.m.
Rancho Cañada del Oro Open Space Preserve
4289 Casa Loma Road, Morgan Hill

Would you like to help keep our local open space preserves beautiful and ready for public use? Trail Masters is a fun, hands-on, skills-based program designed to train volunteers who wish to gain a deeper knowledge of natural resource management. Join Trail Master volunteer Steve at Rancho Cañada del Oro for a gentle hike around the Mayfair Ranch Trail while he provides an overview of the Trail Masters program. Hear first-hand about this fun and meaningful volunteer program, and learn more about what it offers participants! Registration required.


Hike and Bike at Palassou Ridge this October

Palassou Ridge

Saturday, October 19
8:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.

Palassou Ridge Preserve

This October, the Open Space Authority will be opening up the currently by-reservation-only Palassou Ridge Preserve AGAIN for walking and mountain biking. Palassou Ridge offers 12 miles of easy, moderate, and difficult trails to explore for hikers and bikers of all fitness and experience levels! Registration will be available with the release of our October Event Calendar later this month. Sign up for our Event Calendar email list to ensure you get a spot!

Sign Up!

Who Am I? Answer

Garter Snake

I am the garter snake! Often found close to water, I am a good swimmer, but you can also find me in grasslands or sunning myself in warm areas. I am not venomous, but my saliva can cause mild irritation for some people – so be sure to give me my space!

Photo Credits

California Tiger Salamander - Margaret Mantor, California Department of Fish & Wildlife
Coyote Ridge Stock Pond - Galli Basson, Authority Staff
Community Engagement Booth - Ron Horii, Authority Docent
La Mesa Verde - Sacred Heart Community Service
Garter Snake - Authority Archive
Oak Tree - Lech Naumovich
Trail Masters - Matt Chesebrough, Authority Volunteer
Palassou Ridge - Derek Neumann, Authority Staff

Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority | 408.224.7476 |