The primary goal of the Open Space Authority is the preservation of undeveloped land in its natural state. Achieving this goal requires a systematic approach both to acquiring lands and managing them in a sound ecological manner.
Highest priority is given to buying and protecting lands that will:
• Preserve the home territory of wildlife and native plants
• Safeguard water sources
• Create greenbelts and urban buffers
• Maintain the region’s defining landscapes and vistas
• Offer outdoor recreation that respects the natural environment
• Encourage agriculture
• Provide regional trail connections
A Preservation Program
The Santa Clara Valley Greenprint provides a roadmap to help navigate a difficult and changing landscape and make informed land use and conservation decisions that are also wise investments. Our ultimate goal is to achieve healthy, sustainable and livable communities well beyond the 21st Century. Published and approved in 2014, the Valley Greenprint, is one of the primary, guiding documents for the Open Space Authority's preservation efforts.
Conservation Focus Areas
The Valley Greenprint identifies the 10 highest priority areas for conservation—Conservation Focus Areas, such as the Baylands—that provide habitat for more than 500 species; and the Coyote Valley, which encompasses about 3,700 acres of active farmland and is a critical landscape linkage for wildlife movement between the Santa Cruz and Diablo Mountains.
The 5 Year Plan was one of the first documents created to guide the Authority in the preservation of land in Santa Clara County. To develop an effective acquisition plan the Open Space Authority established ten study areas as a way of organizing information about land within its jurisdiction. Each study area has the potential to fulfill one or several of the Authority’s conservation goals.
The data collected help the board of directors identify preservation needs, establish priorities, and allocate funds. The study areas are a planning tool and don’t imply a commitment to preserve particular regions or resources. Lands outside the current study areas are also considered for protection as opportunities arise.
Priority is given to acquisitions that are widely accessible, adjoin other open space, or are especially vulnerable to development. Favorable financing and partnerships are other important considerations. Lands that are visible to the urban area or can meet multiple preservation goals also have a high priority.
Shoreline along San Francisco Bay north of Hwy. 237 in San Jose makes up this area. Many of the tidal marshes along the bay have been significantly diminished by landfill, salt ponds or other disturbances and the remaining wetlands are at great risk.
Acquisition and preservation of lands in this area will preserve habitat for a number of protected species including the California clapper rail, California least tern, salt marsh harvest mouse, and western Snowy plover.
This area is directly west of watershed lands of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission and includes the primary watershed for Berryessa and Penitencia creeks. Acquisitions could protect riparian corridors where red-legged frog and tiger salamander, both protected species, have been observed.
Acquiring lands in this zone will protect scenic views from Ed Levin County Park, the City of Milpitas, and the Berryessa neighborhood of San Jose. Trail connections to the county park could also be established.
An opportunity to protect the southern portion of the Penitencia Creek watershed lies within this area. It adjoins Joseph D. Grant County Park to the south and The Nature Conservancy’s protected lands to the east.
Because of its close proximity to the city, land acquired in this area could provide easily accessible trails that connect to Alum Rock Park and Grant County Park. Acquisitions will also protect ridgeline views and habitat for deer, bobcats, mountain lions, and other wildlife.
The east San Jose foothills comprise this study area, which is critical watershed for Silver Creek. Acquiring strategic parcels will preserve views to the foothills from the Evergreen and Silver Creek neighborhoods of San Jose.
Acquisitions in this area could provide a significant wildlife corridor for a variety of species including deer and bobcat. There is also potential for regional trail connections to Joseph D. Grant County Park on its eastern border.
The east Coyote foothills make up this study area, which is a significant contributor to both the Anderson Lake and Coyote Creek watersheds. It adjoins Coyote Creek County Park to the west and Anderson Lake County Park to the south, providing potential for trail connections.
The protected bay checkerspot butterfly and eight protected plant species have been documented in this region of rare serpentine soil, making it a high priority for habitat protection. Acquiring parcels in this area will also preserve ridgelines and scenic views.
Santa Teresa Ridge
Surrounded by a high level of urban development, this study area lies northwest of Santa Teresa County Park. To the southeast, the ridge remains in its natural condition, representing an urgent preservation opportunity.
Acquisitions in this area will preserve the ridge’s view shed and protect habitat for several varieties of mammals, reptiles, amphibians, birds, and insects. Trail opportunities include potential connections to the county park.
South Coyote Valley Greenbelt
Located just north of Morgan Hill, this region is identified as greenbelt or urban buffer by the general plans of Santa Clara County, the City of Morgan Hill and the City of San Jose. Essential parcels acquired in this area could help preserve the look and feel of open space and rural land uses.
This area is bordered by Almaden Quicksilver and Uvas Canyon county parks and lands managed by Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District. It encompasses Calero County Park and provides habitat for a great diversity of wildlife, including several protected species.
Acquisitions will extend continuous habitat and riparian corridors and offer the potential for a regional trail network. Acquiring strategic parcels will also provide ridgeline and view protection.
South County Agriculture
Farm lands in southern Santa Clara County comprise this study area. Acquiring conservation easements in this region will help preserve the remaining prime agricultural soils and help support the concept of “sustainable cities.”
The lands comprising this area are located in the primary watershed for the Pajaro River. It includes the foothills east of Gilroy, Palassou Ridge, and Cañada de los Osos.
Located between Henry Coe State Park and Coyote Lake County Park, the area has high potential for maintaining uninterrupted wildlife corridors and preserving significant riparian and watershed resources. Preservation will protect habitat for red-legged frog and California tiger salamander.
Land acquisitions will preserve the very visible ridgeline and offer potential trail connections to Henry Coe State Park and other public lands.