Not rendering correctly? View this email as a web page here.


September 2020

Understanding Our Community and Improving Access to Open Space

The COVID-19 pandemic has simultaneously raised awareness of the need urban residents have for access to nature and open spaces, while also highlighting the great disparities in our society related to that access to nature, and as well, related to access to health care, rate of disease, and life expectancy. Now, more than ever, organizations have a responsibility to better understand the health needs of the communities they serve and make a significant positive impact by providing ways for people to live healthier lives.

27368493_1560361124000015_1896132680352189869_oThe newly released report, Understanding Our Community Phase II, is the latest step in the Authority’s long-term commitment to serve its diverse community in a meaningful and sustainable way. In 2015, the Authority released the first phase of its Understanding Our Community report, which served primarily as an assessment of barriers to access of nature experienced by the agency’s residents. The report identified several potential barriers such as those related to transportation, linguistic isolation, and household income levels, that can make it harder for residents to enjoy nature, and thereby receive the innumerable health benefits that nature can provide.

The newly released Phase II report provides data that will strengthen the Authority’s ability to increase equitable access to nature through partnerships and, it hopes, by inspiring community organizations, schools, cities, and the County to apply for funding of novel projects and programs through its Urban Grant Program. The report is also anticipated to serve as a resource to other local and regional organizations as awareness grows about the health benefits of nature.

“The Authority is excited to roll out Phase II of its community assessment report that provides new information about park access, human health, qualitative cultural community input about open space priorities, and other factors that help illuminate ways in which the Authority and community organizations can focus nature-based investments to help those most in need”, said Marc Landgraf, External Affairs Manager for the Authority.

The assessment was conducted by the Authority with expert assistance from Basecamp Strategies, and with data provided by partners at the Santa Clara County Public Health Department, the Trust for Public Land, Health Trust, New America Media, and the San Francisco Estuary Institute. Learn more about the new report here.

Mother_son_Ulistac_bridge_Liv_Ames - photoshopped-1

Community Connections - Ada Márquez

Community Connections highlights the many leaders, partners, and neighbors who make a difference in our community. This month we are featuring Ada Márquez, Open Space Authority and Santa Clara Valley Audubon Society volunteer and environmental studies faculty at San Jose State University.

Connecting people to the outdoors is one of the Open Space Authority’s key priorities, and research continues to show us that the Santa Clara Valley is a richly diverse community. The Understanding Our Community Phase I report revealed that 53% of the population within the Authority’s jurisdiction speaks a language other than English at home. So how can we ensure we are doing our best to reach people across the community? Ada Márquez is helping the Authority do just that.

AdaMarquez_LinkdinFor the last several years, Márquez has assisted the Authority on projects to expand access and make nature more inclusive, providing vital written Spanish translation assistance and more recently, assisting with live events. During our recent bilingual virtual nature walks, Márquez assisted from behind the camera, providing Spanish language translation. Her translation skills in this summer’s virtual programs played an essential role in the Authority’s involvement and celebration of Latino Conservation Week at the end of July.

Beyond working with the Authority, Márquez has been volunteering with the Santa Clara Valley Audubon Society for over a decade. She is a science educator and adjunct faculty member in the Environmental Studies Department at San Jose State University. And she does professional consulting work, writing, and reviewing of environmental impact reports, as well as teaches other organizations how to understand environmental reports to inform their work.

Community service and advocacy are what Márquez builds into her teaching work. She often works with students on service projects, such as the 2018 campaign to pass the City of San Jose’s bond measure which now provides money for various types of infrastructure, including natural infrastructure, and helped to fund the permanent protection of 937 acres in North Coyote Valley last fall.

“I think it’s so important to expose students to that kind of experience,” says Márquez. “Teaching isn’t just about reading material, we need to connect with our students and show them that they can make a difference by contributing to a cause they believe in.”

Read more of Márquez’s story here.

Inspiring Conservation: General Manager Andrea Mackenzie Named One of 2020’s “Women of Influence”

Andrea_Mackenzie_160x160Earlier this year, Open Space Authority’s General Manager Andrea Mackenzie was named as one of the top 2020 “Women of Influence” by the Silicon Valley Business Journal. Each year, the publication selects the 100 most influential local women working across industries and institutions.

Mackenzie joined the Open Space Authority as General Manager in 2011. Under her leadership, the Open Space Authority has grown from protecting approximately 15,000 acres of open space in 2011 to now over 26,000 acres of open space, natural areas, watersheds, and wildlife habitat in the Santa Clara Valley. Led by Mackenzie, the agency has also seen an increase in the number of people connecting with nature in our region. Over the years, Open Space Authority preserve visitation has grown to approximately 325,000 residents annually and more than 600,000 during the COVID-19 shutdown.

And since Mackenzie arrived in 2011, the Open Space Authority expanded its Urban Grant Program, which over the years has awarded over $12.3 million in grants to community-based projects, parks, trails, urban community gardens, and environmental education programs to connect people to nature, regardless of their location or background.

This year’s group of awardees was named after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and Santa Clara County’s shelter in place order, a time when more people than ever have been coming to understand how access to the outdoors provides essential mental and physical health benefits.

We are grateful for Andrea’s commitment to the Authority’s mission and for being an inspiration for the next generation of conservation and climate leaders.

Read more about Mackenzie's leadership here.

Andrea_wildflowers_Coyote Ridge Celebration - SA - 3-18-16 - 3-1

Who Am I?


I am a common evergreen shrub found throughout the West Coast. My small, creamy white flowers blossom between September and November and attract a variety of insects, including wasps, butterflies, and bees. I provide cover for a variety of small mammals, such as rabbits and birds. Who am I?

Renewing Our Investment in Nature


To continue protecting and providing access to open space in our community, the Authority’s Board of Directors has placed Measure T on the November 2020 ballot to renew the Measure Q $24 annual parcel tax, with no increase, until ended by voters. Measure T, if approved by voters, will provide dedicated and consistent long-term funding necessary to support ongoing operations, maintenance, and natural resources stewardship for the Authority’s growing system of open space lands.

Funding from Measure T will be used to:

  • Protect open space, redwood forests, wildlife habitat, scenic hillsides, and agricultural land;
  • Protect land around creeks, rivers, and streams to prevent pollution and improve local water quality and supply;
  • Open, improve, and maintain parks, open space, and trails;
  • Provide urban open space, parks, and environmental education programs through a competitive Urban Grant Program.

Learn More About Measure T

Urban Grant Program Update


When Measure Q was passed by voters in 2014, the Open Space Authority made a bigger commitment to invest in nature within our communities and create more equitable access to the outdoors. And so the Urban Grant Program was born!

During this year's grant cycle, 36 applications were received, requesting a total of $4 million. Small grants will be awarded at the September 24 Board Meeting; large grants are anticipated to be awarded at the December 10 Board Meeting.

Agendas can be found HERE one week before meetings.

Coyote Ridge Open Space Preserve is Growing!

Coyote Ridge - Landscapes - DN - 3-19-16 - sized

East Coyote Ridge, a 1,526-acre plot of land adjacent to the Open Space Authority’s Coyote Ridge Open Space Preserve, was recently protected through a purchase by the Santa Clara Valley Habitat Agency. Funded with the help of the Gorden and Betty Moore Foundation, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, and the State of California Wildlife Conservation board, this acquisition is planned to be transferred to the Open Space Authority’s management within the next couple of years.

Containing the same crucial habitat as the rest of Coyote Ridge, this plot of land will help support 14 rare, threatened, or endangered species, and is anticipated to create new opportunities for public access and environmental education.

Who Am I? Answer

Coyote Brush - TC - 10-21-2006 - 1

I am coyote brush! These plants are rarely found growing alone, as you’ll see if you visit Coyote Valley or Rancho Cañada del Oro open space preserves. Although coyote brush is resilient, much of its habitat has been negatively affected by development.

Photo Credits

Gardening - Veggielution
Mother and Child at Ulistac - Liv Ames
Ada Márquez -Ada Márquez
Andrea Mackenzie - Authority Archives
Andrea Mackenzie at Coyote Ridge - Authority Archives
Coyote Brush - Authority Archives
Students at Coyote Ridge - Authority Archives
Bay Area Wilderness Training - Authority Archives
East Coyote Ridge - Derek Neumann, Authority Staff
Coyote Brush - Tom Cochrane

Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority | 408.224.7476 |