News

Measure Q Urban Open Space Grants Awarded Exceed $1.5 million: Fifteen Organizations Receive Funds to Bolster Local Conservation Projects

Children discovering objects in creekThe Board of Directors for the Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority has awarded $1,553,077 in the initial grant cycle for the Measure Q Urban Open Space competitive grant program. Fifteen organizations serving Santa Clara County residents, including nonprofits, schools, cities and the County, received grant funds for community gardens, outdoor leaders training, environmental education, homeless stream stewards, sustainable food systems and more. The $1.5 million in grant awards leverages more than $1.1 million in matching funds from the grantee organizations for total urban open space investment of more than $2.6 million.

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Open Space Authority Loma Fire Response Targets Watershed Restoration and Recovery

Open Space Authority Loma Fire Response Targets Watershed Restoration and RecoveryNearly 2,000 acres of open space lands burned in the recent Loma fire. Immediate priorities for the Open Space Authority include ensuring public safety from landslides and other hazards, barring illegal access (particularly preventing motorized vehicles from damaging exposed slopes), and reducing environmental impacts such as soil erosion and the flow of debris and sediment into the Chesbro and Uvas Reservoirs.

“Early estimates indicate that the Open Space Authority’s restoration and recovery costs may exceed $1 million. Our internal Loma Fire Response Team will manage the short and long term impacts on water supplies, trees, vegetation and wildlife,” said the Authority's General Manager, Andrea Mackenzie. The Open Space Authority will work with the County, CalFire, the Watershed Emergency Response Team, Santa Clara Valley Water District, the Hollister office of the Natural Resources Conservation Service, and other partners on the post-fire restoration effort. The Authority will seek partnerships and funding assistance for its restoration work from local, state and federal agencies.

Watch a recent story done by KPIX on what we are doing to clean up after the fire.

(Photo credit: Derek Neumann)

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Rancho Cañada del Oro Open Space Preserve scheduled to re-open at 7:00 a.m. on Saturday, October 29, 2016

After the FireThe Rancho Cañada del Oro will be closed for another week to allow for rehabilitation and recovery from the Loma Fire. Currently, the Open Space Authority's open space technicians are working to rehabilitate and restore several areas of the preserve that were severely damaged by the fire. Heavy equipment is being used for the restoration and so the preserve will remain closed during this time to ensure public safety. The preserve is scheduled to re-open at 7:00 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 29.

 

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Loma Fire

The Loma Fire began on Monday, September 26 and burned a total of 4,474 acres off Loma Prieta Road and Loma Chiquita Road about 10 miles NW of Morgan Hill. The burn area included a portion of Rancho Cañada del Oro Open Space Preserve.

The Preserve is closed until further notice, while Open Space Authority staff assess the damage from the fire. OSA staff were onsite throughout, working closely with CalFire to help guide the response to the fire and coordinate use of Hidden Lake as a water source for firefighting.

Fortunately, there were no major injuries or human lives lost. Reported property losses include 12 single residences and 16 outbuildings.

CalFire urges non-residents to stay out of the vicinity of the burned area. As fire crews and equipment remain in the fire area, please drive slowly and use caution.

Loma Fire Photographs

Helicopter retrieving water from the preserve’s Hidden Lake. (Derek Neumann)

Helicopter retrieving water from the preserve’s Hidden Lake. (Derek Neumann)

The Loma fire approaching Rancho Cañada del Oro Open Space Preserve

The Loma fire approaching Rancho Cañada del Oro Open Space Preserve.

Fire crew staging at Rancho Cañada del Oro parking lot.

Fire crew staging at Rancho Cañada del Oro parking lot.

Rancho Cañada del Oro landscape after the Loma Fire

Rancho Cañada del Oro landscape after the Loma Fire.

Fire crews working at Rancho Cañada del Oro

Fire crews working at Rancho Cañada del Oro.

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LTA Accreditation

Coyote RidgeThe Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority is applying for accreditation by the Land Trust Accreditation Commission, an independent program of the Land Trust Alliance. Accreditation is an extensive evaluation by the Commission to ensure the organization’s policies and programs meet rigorous national quality standards. The process culminates in the awarding of an accreditation seal as a mark of distinction in land conservation. Should the Authority successfully achieve accreditation, it will be the first special district in the U.S. to become accredited by the Land Trust Accreditation Commission.

“The Open Space Authority’s pursuit of accreditation demonstrates a commitment to the highest levels of professional excellence in land conservation,” said Dorsey Moore, Board Chair for the Open Space Authority. “In applying for accreditation, the Open Space Authority has strengthened its policies, procedures, and programs for land acquisitions and preserve management.”

The Commission invites public input and accepts signed, written comments on pending applications. Open Space Authority stakeholders may submit comments pertaining to the Authority’s implementation of Land Trust Standards and Practices by visiting www.landtrustaccreditation.org, or emailing to info@landtrustaccreditation.org. Comments may also be faxed or mailed to the Land Trust Accreditation Commission, Attn: Public Comments: (fax) 518-587-3183; (mail) 112 Spring Street, Suite 204, Saratoga Springs, NY 12866. The public comment period is open now and continues until November 11, 2016.

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Coyote Valley Family Harvest Feast Celebrates Urban Farming and Healthy Food

Coyote Valley Family Harvest Feast LogoThe Open Space Authority cordially invites the community to the Coyote Valley Family Harvest Feast, a celebration of locally-grown food, local farms, and Silicon Valley’s agricultural roots. This free and family-friendly festival will take place on Saturday, September 10, from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., at the Coyote Valley Open Space Preserve, 550 Palm Avenue in Morgan Hill. Attendees are encouraged to register in advance at www.CoyoteValley2016.eventbrite.com.

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Urban Open Space Grant Program to Fund Urban Parks and Trails, Community Gardens, Outdoor Education, Creek Restoration

Urban Open Space Grant Program to Fund Urban Parks and Trails, Community Gardens, Outdoor Education, Creek RestorationThe Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority is pleased to introduce a new grant program designed to connect more people throughout its jurisdiction with the many benefits of nature. This competitive annual grant program is funded by Measure Q and will provide funding for projects in one or more of these categories:

• Environmental Stewardship and Restoration
• Parks, Trails, and Public Access
• Environmental Education
• Urban Agriculture/Food Systems

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Community Assessment for Parks and Open Space Identifies Six Neighborhoods with Significant Barriers to Open Space Access

Community Assessment for Parks and Open Space Identifies Six Neighborhoods with Significant Barriers to Open Space AccessThe Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority has released its Understanding Our Community report, which details barriers that prevent residents in its jurisdiction from going outdoors to enjoy nature and reaping its health and other benefits. The report identifies six neighborhoods where a greater concentration of barriers exists and deeper engagement is warranted to help ensure equitable access to parks and open space lands. Resident feedback at recent community meetings also helped to identify high priority open space and park needs in Santa Clara County.

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Open Space Authority Acquires Pristine Acreage in Southern Santa Cruz Mountain Region

Open Space Authority Acquires Pristine Acreage in Southern Santa Cruz Mountain RegionThe Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority has finalized its purchase of 50 pristine acres located in the foothills of the Southern Santa Cruz Mountains, west of Bailey Avenue and McKean Road in south Santa Clara County. The land will become part of the Authority’s Rancho Cañada del Oro Open Space Preserve, which comprises nearly 4,000 acres with more than 8 miles of trails winding through woodlands, meadows and meandering creeks.

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Open Space Authority Grants Funds to City of Santa Clara for Urban Open Space and Community Garden near San Tomas Aquinas Creek Trail

Open Space Authority Grants Funds to City of Santa Clara For Urban Open Space and Community Garden near San Tomas Aquinas Creek Trail The Open Space Authority Board of Directors has approved allocation of $425,000 from its 20% Funding Program to the City of Santa Clara towards development of a 3-acre city park on land adjacent to the trailhead for the San Tomas Aquino Creek Trail. The park will serve as a buffer between the busy San Tomas Expressway corridor and the trailhead, as well as enhance outdoor education and recreation opportunities in this park poor, heavily urbanized area.

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Open Space Authority Awards Inaugural Measure Q Funds to Connect Children to Nature

Bridge to Nature: Bill’s Backyard The Open Space Authority Board of Directors has authorized the first Measure Q investment, which was awarded to Children’s Discovery Museum of San Jose, through the Authority’s Urban Open Space program. The investment will help support the Museum’s project: Bridge to Nature: Bill’s Backyard, which is designed to provide urban children with a safe and welcoming introduction to the natural world. Bridge to Nature will be located on the Museum’s campus, adjacent to the Guadalupe River and bordered by low-income, inner city neighborhoods.

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Andrea Mackenzie Lauded for Conservation Action and Vision

Andrea Mackenzie Lauded for Conservation Action and Vision Bay Nature magazine’s prestigious 2016 Local Hero for Conservation Action award recognizes leadership in conservation of the natural landscapes, wildlife, and flora of the SF Bay Area. The award will be presented to Andrea on March 20, 2016 at the Bay Nature’s Local Hero Awards Dinner. For more details, click here.

“I am grateful to receive this award, while recognizing that major conservation gains are not won by individuals but by a determined and vigilant community of people,” said Andrea Mackenzie.

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Regulation of Drones in Open Space Lands

Regulation of Drones in Open Space LandsIn response to the growing use of drones in parks and preserves, the Open Space Authority Board of Directors has approved a policy to regulate the use of unmanned aerial systems (UAS or drones) on and above all Authority properties. Photo courtesy of Don McCullough/CC.

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The Future Coyote Ridge Open Space Preserve

The Future Coyote Ridge Open Space Preserve October 2015 marks a historic event in the making for the Open Space Authority with the largest land purchase to date, Coyote Ridge, an 1,831 acre property located in South San Jose. This land is so important because it houses rare serpentine habitat for many species including the threatened Bay checkerspot butterfly.

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Open Space Authority Protects Open Space on Santa Teresa Ridge with Strategic Acquisition

Santa Teresa RidgeThe Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority Board of Directors has approved the acquisition of two pivotal land parcels totaling 8.79 acres located on Santa Teresa Ridge in San Jose’s Santa Teresa neighborhood. The property had been slated for a single family residence of up to 7,800 square feet. The parcels are a gateway to some 1,500 acres of open space land that provide a scenic backdrop to south San Jose with sweeping views across the Almaden Valley to downtown San Jose and the Mt. Hamilton Range.

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Arrowhead Trail Receives Certification as Interpretive Site for Juan Bautista de Anza Trail

Arrowhead Trail Receives Certification as Interpretive Site for Juan Bautista de Anza TrailThe Arrowhead Trail at Coyote Valley Open Space Preserve has been certified by the National Park Service as an official interpretive site of the historic Juan Bautista de Anza Trail. Matt Freeman, Open Space Authority Assistant General Manager, stated, “This certification recognizes the rich historical significance of the Coyote Valley and reflects the Valley Greenprint objective of connecting miles of trails throughout the Bay Area.”

Juan Bautista de Anza and his expedition were the first non-native settlers to come to the Bay Area and to what is now called Coyote Valley. The de Anza expedition marks a significant historical part of the valley’s past and the Coyote Valley Open Space Preserve is well-positioned to serve as an important interpretive site to tell the story of the expedition and how it changed the culture and landscape of the Valley.

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County of Santa Clara Awarded Grant to Preserve At-risk Farmland in the South County for Climate Benefit

County of Santa Clara Awarded Grant to Preserve At-risk Farmland in the South County for Climate BenefitPreserving farmland has many benefits, including decreasing the carbon emissions associated with urban development. A recent $100,000 grant was awarded to the County of Santa Clara, in partnership with the Open Space Authority, that will identify and protect at-risk agricultural lands in order to help reduce greenhouse gas emission. “If agriculture is to survive in South County,” says Andrea Mackenzie, Open Space Authority General Manager, “we need an innovative action plan. The time is now to align plans, programs, policies and investment affecting undeveloped agricultural lands and demonstrate that conserving farmland from development is a critically important climate change strategy.”

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Coyote Valley Open Space Preserve Grand Opening

Coyote Valley Open Space Preserve Grand Opening.Hundreds gathered on June 27 to celebrate the opening of this stunning preserve and enjoy its 348-acres of heritage valley oaks, rolling hills, oak woodland, serpentine rock outcroppings and native grasslands. Mayor Liccardo and others spoke at the event followed by Valentin Lopez, President of the Amah Mutsun Land Trust, who offered a blessing of the land, after which the crowd gathered while dignitaries cut the ribbon for official opening of the Arrowhead Loop Trail.

In addition to its outstanding recreation opportunities, the Preserve’s many conservation values include its rich cultural history, valuable water resources, farm and ranchland, and a critical wildlife corridor. By preserving this land, we’ve saved a piece of the “Valley of Heart’s Delight” for the enjoyment of future generations.

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How Green is My Valley? by Lisa Krieger

Learn the history, flora and fauna of the Coyote Valley Open Space Preserve in Bay Area Nature Magazine, April 2015

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Pajaro River Agricultural Preserve, Near Gilroy

One of six ponds on the 285-acre property.The Authority recently purchased 183 acres of farmland in South Santa Clara County where the Pajaro River and Llagas Creek intersect. The land provides tomatoes, peppers, and leaf lettuces and the farm is part of a large complex of protected, productive farms that also provide flood prevention benefits to downstream communities. The property, which is south of the City of Gilroy, has been designated the Pajaro River Agricultural Preserve. The Authority's intent is to keep it in productive agriculture, while also managing it for the other benefits that our working landscapes provide.

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Marc Landgraf Joins Open Space Authority

One of six ponds on the 285-acre property.The Open Space Authority is excited to welcome Marc Landgraf as the new External Affairs Manager. In this role he will develop new public, nonprofit and private funding opportunities and conservation partnerships to support the Authority’s mission of preserving open space lands in Santa Clara County.

“We are delighted to have Marc in this pivotal role,” said General Manager Andrea Mackenzie. “Creative partnerships will serve as a cornerstone for our conservation programs and engagement with the community as we begin our implementation of Measure Q and the Santa Clara Valley Greenprint in 2015.” 

Marc has been in the land conservation field for over 14 years, including nearly 7 years at Peninsula Open Space Trust (POST). As Director of External Affairs at POST, Marc built a broad range of traditional and nontraditional partnerships and also played a leadership role in the passing of Measure AA and Measure Q. Both of these measures will contribute significant funding to regional conservation for years to come. Prior to working in conservation, Marc was a design engineering manager at Intel Corporation. Marc loves spending time with his family outdoors – hiking, biking and cross-country skiing. He is also an opera fan. Please join us in welcoming Marc!

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Private/Public Partnership Succeeds in Securing Pivotal Property

One of six ponds on the 285-acre property.October 17, 2014 - An innovative partnership between the Open Space Authority, Peninsula Open Space Trust (POST) and the Santa Clara County Parks Department came to fruition with the purchase of 285-acres of open space land in the ruggedly beautiful and water rich Southern Santa Cruz Mountains region. Permanent protection of this property will serve the public’s interest by expanding outdoor recreation and education opportunities, while closing gaps in regional trail connections.

“Permanent protection of this property will implement a shared vision between the Authority, POST and County Parks to protect and ensure public access to open space in this important region,” said Matt Freeman, Assistant General Manager for the Authority. The Open Space Authority is purchasing the property from the Melchor family for $1.4 million, with Santa Clara County Parks contributing $718,000 (one-half of the total purchase price). The Authority will take ownership of the property and the County will hold a conservation easement which ensures the property will serve a public park purpose by providing future trail access.

“This property is key to completing the critical trail route to connect Uvas Canyon County Park to Uvas Reservoir County Park and the West Valley Trail,” said County Supervisor Mike Wasserman, in whose district this parcel is located. “We will continue to work with POST and the Open Space Authority to secure the land necessary to implement these regional trails.”

The Peninsula Open Space Trust (POST) initiated the purchase of the property, coordinated details of the transaction and conducted the environmental due diligence. “An important component of POST’s vision is creating a network of protected lands where people and wildlife can thrive,” said POST President Walter T. Moore. “Partnering with the Open Space Authority and Santa Clara County Parks is key to making that vision a reality.”

The Southern Santa Cruz Mountains is identified in the Santa Clara Valley Greenprint as one of ten Conservation Focus Areas in Santa Clara County. This mountainous region provides habitat for many rare, threatened and endangered species and offers critical refuge for plants and animals in the face of a changing climate. The 285-acre property consists of open, rolling grasslands that feature six scenic, spring-fed ponds. Much of the property is underlain with rare, serpentine soils with potential for rare plant and animal populations. The land is part of an important connection between the Santa Cruz Mountains to the Gabilan Range and Pinnacles National Park which provides safe passage for animals through a critical wildlife corridor, according to the Bay Area Open Space Council’s Conservation Lands Network biodiversity report.

POST is a leading private, nonprofit land trust that protects and cares for open space, farms and parkland in and around Silicon Valley. Since its founding in 1977, POST has been responsible for saving more than 70,000 acres as permanent open space and parkland in San Mateo, Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties. 

The Santa Clara County Parks and Recreation Department has provided recreational opportunities, beautiful parks and precious natural resources for Santa Clara County residents for more than 50 years. This golden legacy has resulted in one of the largest regional park systems in the State of California with over 49,000 acres.

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Valuing Open Space—Preserving Land is No Frivolous Luxury

by Andrea Mackenzie, General Manager
Published in the San Jose Mercury News on June 13, 2014

Over the last 30 years, Santa Clara County's conservation agencies and organizations have worked tirelessly to acquire an impressive amount of park land, open space and wildlife habitat to balance the explosive growth of Silicon Valley. Our system of parks and open space preserves are essential to our health, well-being and economic prosperity.

However, unprecedented challenges including water supply shortages, drought conditions and increased frequency and intensity of floods, storms and wildfires now threaten those hard-fought environmental gains. These challenges will be exacerbated as the county is expected to grow by 700,000 people over the next 25 years. And it comes at a time when public and private funding for land conservation and stewardship is in decline.

This spring, the Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority released its Santa Clara Valley Greenprint. It identifies the highest priority areas for conservation and links land protection and stewardship to essential community benefits such as safeguarding local water supplies, protecting water quality, reducing the risk of fire and flood, maintaining the viability of local food systems and increasing the resiliency of urban communities in the face of climate change.

If Silicon Valley is to remain a center for innovation in the fastest-growing region in the state, it must support continued investment in open space to ensure lasting provision of these benefits. To spur that investment in open space, the Open Space Authority has just completed "Nature's Value in Santa Clara County," the first-ever regional economic valuation of open space, natural areas, water resources and working landscapes and the benefits people receive from nature.

It is part of the multicounty Healthy Lands & Healthy Economies Initiative that includes Santa Clara, Sonoma and Santa Cruz counties and represents the out-of-the-box thinking needed to ensure a sustainable region.

This effort determined that Santa Clara County's natural capital -- open space lands, natural areas, farms and ranchlands -- provides a suite of benefits, known as ecosystem services, which range in value from $1.6 to $3.9 billion annually. Ecosystem services include clean air, water supply and quality, reduced flood risk, wildlife habitat, pollination, healthy food and recreation.

By examining valuation studies of similar goods and services in locations comparable to Santa Clara County, the study assigns a range of monetary values based on market pricing, replacement cost and other factors. The study also calculated the asset value of the county's natural capital, which is based on the value of its ecosystem services over time. Over a 100-year period, Santa Clara County's natural capital is worth between $162 billion and $386 billion.

Armed with this information, we can direct conservation investments to places that offer the highest environmental and economic returns to society. Now is the time to embrace these innovative conservation approaches and invest in our natural capital.

The Open Space Authority is considering placing a funding measure on the November 2014 ballot to ensure that we have the ability to protect, restore and maintain our green infrastructure. Our agency cannot do this work alone. We will need partners and allies in the public and private sectors who share this vision.
It is our hope that the region's policymakers, elected officials, public agencies and business community embrace these approaches to achieve sustainable communities and economies -- and to position Santa Clara County as an environmental leader in the region and state.

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Julian McPhee Family Bequeaths Beloved 116-Acre Family Property That Includes Redwood Stand in Eastern Foothills of Santa Cruz Mountains

May 16, 2014 -- The Open Space Authority Board of Directors voted to accept the generous gift of a 116-acre property from the Julian McPhee family. The property, located in the water-rich area of the eastern foothills of the Santa Cruz Mountains in the Upper Uvas Creek Watershed adjacent to Uvas Canyon County Park, presents an opportunity to expand recreation in the eastern foothills and provide visitors with a unique redwood experience.

“This property has been in our family for many years and was used as a weekend getaway,” said Rick Lavalle, grandson of Julian McPhee. “We are so pleased that the land will be protected in perpetuity and provide wildlife habitat, scenic views and future hiking and recreation for the public.”

The Authority’s General Manager, Andrea Mackenzie, stated, “The Open Space Authority is very excited to accept this generous gift of property on behalf of Santa Clara County residents. The property is ideal for its multiple conservation values including water and habitat protection. The land presents an opportunity to expand recreation in the eastern foothills and provide visitors with a unique redwood experience.”

The Open Space Authority’s Valley Greenprint identifies this prop erty as having very high conservation values in terms of biodiversity and water resources. It includes habitat for fish native to the area such as rainbow trout and riffle sculpin, and potential habitat for the California red-legged frog and the Foothill yellow-legged frog. The property is located within a critical landscape linkage that connects habitat in the Santa Cruz Mountains to the Gabilan Range. The area receives the highest amount of rainfall in the County and contains a tributary to Uvas Creek and a main stem of Croy Creek. In the long term, the property provides an important opportunity to implement the County-wide Trails Master Plan.

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Wildfire Monitoring and Safety Funding Partnership

May 15, 2014 -- The Open Space Authority and the Santa Clara Valley Water District (SCVWD) have partnered to fund the installation of a new early detection fire camera for Santa Clara County, which will be managed and monitored by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE). Having just last week declared fire season open in the Bay Area—a month earlier than usual—CAL FIRE anticipates that this and future cameras could help firefighters locate and suppress fires before they become large destructive events in the Santa Cruz Mountains. The camera, purchased by the County, will provide 24/7 live feeds to CAL FIRE, and is designed to identify and help locate potential wildfire hot spots. The combined $11,000 given by the Authority and SCVWD will allow for the installation of the camera and for training of CAL FIRE field staff in its use. With the current drought and a potentially devastating fire season upon us, we’re privileged to be able to partner with SCVWD in support of CAL FIRE and its new wildfire cam.  

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Protecting Nature’s Benefits: The Importance of Wildlands and Natural Areas

Message from Andrea Mackenzie, General Manager

Coyote RidgeSixty five years ago, Aldo Leopold, one of the nation’s pioneering conservationists wrote what would become one of America’s seminal conservation classics - A Sand County Almanac. In reflecting on man’s increasing impact on nature, Leopold wrote, “the last word in ignorance is the man who says of an animal or plant, what good is it? To keep every cog and wheel is the first precaution of intelligent tinkering.”    

In the decades that have followed, an unprecedented loss of biodiversity has occurred, principally due to habitat destruction. Despite passage of federal and state endangered species laws and the setting aside of parks and open space preserves, we are witnessing an irreversible loss of our natural heritage and information that could be key to unknown medical and scientific breakthroughs.

In this 20th anniversary year, the Open Space Authority is crafting an ambitious Conservation Vision to direct our land protection and stewardship efforts. Our approach to protecting our wildlands, natural areas and biodiversity is multifold. We work with our partners to protect, restore and manage an interconnected system of natural areas with critical linkages to allow species to move through an increasingly fragmented landscape. We maintain the health of natural areas to help both human and natural communities respond and adapt to a changing climate.

The beauty and diversity of our open space, natural areas, parks, and wildlife inspire us. Protecting these places for our own enjoyment and well-being is a high priority for our citizens. Increasingly, there are even more compelling reasons to protect and sustain our natural lands. Nature’s complex support systems sustain all living beings, great and small, and provide essential services of clean air, clean water, flood protection, local food, and resilience to a changing climate.

Mark Tercek, President and CEO of The Nature Conservancy and a former investment banker, recently published Nature’s Fortune: Why Saving the Environment is the Smartest Investment We Can Make. Tercek writes that saving special place by special place as the sole conservation strategy will not be enough anymore. We need to look at land stewardship and resource health across jurisdictions and public and private lands. Our land use policies and economic investments must increasingly support the health of natural systems upon which our own well-being and the strength of our economy depend. “The breakthrough insight, Tercek writes, "is when companies recognize that the services they rely on from nature but heretofore took for granted and got for free, such as clean water and flood protection, will be neither guaranteed nor free in the coming years.”

Here in the Silicon Valley, a center for innovation and the fastest growing region in the state, the Open Space Authority is committed to partnering with public and private agencies and organizations alike to ensure the health, safety and stewardship of our water resources, wildlife habitats, farmland and open spaces. It’s our obligation and the legacy we leave to the next generation.

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Assistant General Manager Matt Freeman to Join the Santa Clara County Food Systems Alliance

Assistant General Manager Matt Freeman will join the Santa Clara County Food System Alliance (FSA) on behalf of the Open Space Authority. Matt will replace the Authority's Citizens Advisory Committee member Eric Carruthers, who served on the FSA for over eight years. The FSA recently released an important assessment of the county’s food system, available here. Over the next several months, the FSA will be developing a work plan to implement the highest-priority recommendations that emerged from the assessment, including the need to permanently preserve the county’s productive farms and ranches. For more information, visit the FSA website.

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Watershed Property Protected

Coyote RidgeThe Authority has acquired 160+ acres off Casa Loma Road just west of its Rancho Cañada del Oro Open Space Preserve. The property is lush with mixed evergreen forest, Coast live oak forest, and riparian forest with two seasonal tributaries to Llagas Creek, an important steelhead stream. Preservation of this property contributes to the protection of the Llagas Creek Watershed and helps maintain important habitat. In the future, this property could provide a bridge for a future trail that extends between Rancho Cañada del Oro Open Space Preserve and the Authoritys holdings in the Uvas Creek Watershed, thereby expanding public access and recreation in the area.

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Land Protection Reduces Fire Risk

Coyote RidgeAuthority staff recently helped avert a disastrous fire on the Rancho Cañada del Oro Open Space Preserve that could have destroyed trees and wildlife habitat on hundreds of acres. Field staff discovered a hillside fire, notified Cal Fire, and helped them navigate access roads to the property. The firefighters quickly contained the blaze. The Authority’s partnerships with Cal Fire and the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Department ensure maximum protection of public lands from fire and natural disasters, as well as illegal activities such as poaching and vandalism.

Open space land protection does not end with purchase of a property — it is just the beginning. The Authority monitors and maintains its properties to insure against fire and flooding. Volunteer Trail Patrol and Land Stewards work with Authority staff to protect people, wildlife and natural resources.

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New Property on Coyote Ridge!

Coyote RidgeThe Open Space Authority has acquired parcels totaling 28.45 acres of open space land on Malech Road in the Upper Coyote Valley Area in Santa Clara County. The property is characterized by rare serpentine grassland, rock outcrops and Blue Oak Savanna. The site also contains a perennial spring and a tributary to Coyote Creek, a steelhead stream. A three-acre portion of the site offers potential for public access, environmental education and staging opportunities for a future Open Space Preserve.


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The Tiniest Patients

HummingbirdAmy Yee, President of the Board of Directors, Wildlife Education and Rehabilitation Center

How do you care for an avian patient no bigger than your little fingernail? The patient has no feathers, requires a special formula every 15 minutes from dawn to dusk and a consistently warm temperature?

These are the Wildlife Education and Rehabilitations Center’s baby hummingbirds. Caring for them requires unique skills and is extremely time-intensive, so they go to specialized hummingbird homecare volunteers.

Many baby hummingbirds that come to us are “over-rescues” and probably are doing fine on their own. A mother hummingbird rarely abandons her nest, unless she is injured or driven off by a male. Fledglings often end up on the ground where the mother bird will feed them for up to a week, until they can fly. When babies are found on the ground where cat activity is, or in parking lots, or near school grounds, then it is often in the baby’s best interests to bring it in for care.

HummingbirdRaising baby hummingbirds is truly a labor (emphasis on “labor!”) of love, but is gratifying work. The hummers receive care in incubators until they are feathered and able to perch, then they transition to self-feeding, flying and eating on the wing – all while moving into successively larger baskets covered with screen mesh. When they can competently eat on the wing, they make their final transfer to a hummingbird aviary where they build up flight muscles and practice catching small insects. After about 7 – 10 days in the aviary, the birds are ready for release.

We wish them well as they zip out and hope they will avoid being caught by a cat, flying into a window, getting stuck to a white-fly sticky trap, and overcome myriad challenges they face in the wild.

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Key Land Purchase Expands Open Space Authority Preserve in Southern Santa Clara County

Former Doan RanchOn October 11th, the Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority Board of Directors gave final approval to acquiring 120-acres on Canada Road in southern Santa Clara County. The property, owned by Santa Barbara Bank and Trust, is adjacent to the southerly border of the Authority’s 702-acre property purchased in 2007, which will be enlarged to create a 822-acre open space preserve.

Purchase of the property by the Authority eliminates the potential development of three highly visible hilltop estate homes along Canada Road. Instead, the Authority will expand its future open space preserve to approximately 822 acres for watershed, wildlife habitat and public recreation and environmental education. Purchase of the property will allow the Authority to establish a public staging area and trail system that will provide sweeping views of the spectacular Diablo Range.

The 120-acre property lies within the Upper Pajaro River watershed and includes a tributary of San Ysidro Creek. The property provides habitat for the California Tiger Salamander and California Red Legged-frog, two federally endangered species, and is part of a critical wildlife linkage connecting the Santa Cruz Mountains and the Diablo Range.

In 2007, when the Authority purchased the 574-acre property formerly known as the Doan Ranch, it had also sought to protect the adjoining three parcels from development, but the $3 million price tag was prohibitive. In May 2012, Santa Barbara Bank and Trust acquired the property through a foreclosure and the Authority was able to negotiate the purchase of the three parcels for $810,000.

“Our timing was just right to be able to purchase these properties for open space,” said Andrea Mackenzie, General Manager of the Open Space Authority. “Protection of these properties will benefit the water quality, wildlife habitat and recreational values of the upper Pajaro River watershed.”

The Authority plans to partner with the Natural Resource Conservation Service to prepare resource management plans and implement water quality improvements on the property prior to opening the preserve for public use.

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Recent Acquisition Protects Llagas Creek Watershed

Photo: Detail of Llagas Creek on Hifai property Detail of Llagas Creek

Santa Clara County gains significant water resource protection with the Authority’s purchase of the Hifai property, 160-acres of open space land located in the upper headwaters of the Llagas Creek Watershed.  The property is in South San Jose off Loma Chiquita Road and adjacent to the Authority’s holdings on Mt. Chual, a prominent southern Santa Clara County peak.

Llagas Creek is a primary source of fresh water for the county’s agricultural sector and is designated as critical habitat for the threatened South-Central California Coast (S-CCC) steelhead trout. The land affords potential habitat for the smooth lesinga and Santa Cruz Mountain’s beardstongue, two state-listed threatened plant species.

The Bay Area Critical Linkages Project identifies the parcel as high priority for providing habitat connections for far-ranging animals such as mountain lions. This acquisition also offers potential for expanding outdoor recreation options with trail connections between the Authority’s Rancho Cañada del Oro Open Space Preserve, Uvas Creek and other nearby protected lands.  

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"A Little Piece of Heaven"

Photo: OSA General Manager Andrea Mackenzie and Romalina Steiner
Andrea Mackenzie and Romalina Steiner

The Open Space Authority purchased 160-acres of pristine property in a partnership with Peninsula Open Space Trust (POST). The OSA will add the land to its 4,334 acre Rancho Cañada del Oro Open Space Preserve.

“This property contains the headwaters of Twin Falls Creek in Edson Canyon, a tributary of Llagas Creek.  Preservation of this land allows us to expand our stewardship of this fragile watershed and contribute to the protection of our county’s water supply,” said OSA’s General Manager Andrea Mackenzie.

POST purchased the land from the Steiner family. “We were lucky to have a place to go where we could connect to something bigger, where natural laws made sense, where there was a sense of wholeness,” said Ramalina Steiner, “I feel as if I’m selling a little piece of heaven.”     

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New Assistant General Manager, Matt Freeman

Matt FreemanWe are pleased to announce that Matt Freeman will be joining the Open Space Authority as Assistant General Manager. Matt has over twenty years of experience in land conservation, open space planning, and resource management. He will lead the Authority’s strategic planning process in 2012-2013, developing a long-range conservation vision for hundreds of thousands of acres of productive farmland and foodshed, critical greenbelts, streams and wildlife linkages across Santa Clara County.

Matt previously served as Director of Conservation for the Land Trust of Santa Cruz County, where he led a variety of land acquisition, regional conservation planning, and stewardship projects. This work included development of the Watsonville Slough Farms Conservation and Management Plan and the Conservation Blueprint, a state-of-the-art conservation plan for Santa Cruz County. Matt serves as the Vice President of the Santa Cruz Mountains Bioregional Council and as an Advisory Board member of NextSpace. He has a BA in Environmental Studies from the University of California, Santa Cruz and a Masters in Community and Regional Planning from the University of Oregon. Matt lives in the Santa Cruz Mountain community of Ben Lomond and can often be found hiking on nearby trails, and kayaking on Monterey Bay.

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Message from Andrea Mackenzie, General Manager

Buck SilhouetteAs stewards of the land, creeks, trees, plants and wildlife across Santa Clara County, we know that each season creates a special magic. Winter months offer cold, clear night skies for stargazing. The migration of birds adorns the skies of the Pacific flyway. A greening occurs as rain nurtures the landscape and all living things.

The wild beauty of this winter is poignant as we contemplate the closure of over 70 California State Parks, due to budget cuts, putting at risk the natural, historic and cultural legacy that belongs to us all. With such drastic reductions in funding at the state and local levels, voluntarism and philanthropic leadership play an increasingly critical role in the ongoing conservation and stewardship of all of our parks, open spaces, working lands and wildlife habitat. Please join the Open Space Authority or one of the many dedicated land conservation agencies or land trusts this season in giving something back to the land. You can connect to over sixty land conservation organizations at work in the San Francisco Bay Area at www.openspacecouncil.org

This winter season provides us with the opportunity to rekindle our commitment to closely held values and principles. As we explore the richness and vastness of our “back yard” wilderness areas, and contemplate the coming year, may our vision of the future include recognition for the inherent value of our natural world. As Aldo Leopold said, “There are some who can live without wild things and some who cannot.” I contend that very few of us can live without.

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Sierra Vista: Feel Like You’re on Top of the World!

Doug McConnell and Andrea Mackenzie

Enjoy a guided tour of the new Sierra Vista Open Space Preserve trails with award-winning TV journalist Doug McConnell, Andrea Mackenzie, and Janet McBride here. Breathtaking views include lush canyons and a birds-eye view of downtown San Jose.

LISTEN to what other newsmakers and the media are saying about the Sierra Vista Trail Opening:

KQED Radio -- 88.5 FM QUEST Northern California
KLLC Radio -- 97.3 FM Radio Alice with Liz St. John

 

About the Sierra Vista Open Space Preserve

Sierra Vista trail openingNestled in the Eastern foothills of Santa Clara County and perched atop Alum Rock Park is The Open Space Authority's Sierra Vista Open Space Preserve. Open Space Authority is proud to add about six miles of new trail in Sierra Vista, with grand views and cool canyons, as an integral part of the Bay Area Ridge Trail connecting to our already popular Boccardo Trail. Sierra Vista offers a back country experience within minutes for Silicon Valley's two million residents. The State Coastal Conservancy along with the Bay Area Ridge Trail Council have generously partnered with the Open Space Authority to fund this fresh expanse of trail.

This beautiful and scenic Preserve is comprised of 1,676 acres of majestic oak woodlands, rolling grasslands and chaparral communities. The Preserve provides vital watershed protection for Penitencia Creek and is home to a number of protected wildlife species such as the red-legged frog, tiger salamander, golden eagle, mountain lion, bobcat, and grey fox. Sierra Vista Open Space Preserve and the 3-mile Boccardo Trail is frequented by over 13,000 trail users annually. The new trail system and the Boccardo section total about 10 miles of crucial connection in the Bay Area Ridge Trail, a 550-mile regional multi-use trail system planned along the ridge lines that encircle the San Francisco Bay. On a clear day views from the new trails include Penitencia and Arroyo Aguague canyons and Downtown San Jose, to the southern portion of the San Francisco Bay from Mountain View to South San Jose.

Currently access to Sierra Vista Open Space Preserve is via Alum Rock City Park, and some sections of the new Sierra Vista trails are dual-use only (hikers and bicyclists). Future plans for Sierra Vista include multi-use access (equestrians, hikers, and bicyclists) as well as a staging area along Sierra Road.

Check current trail conditions — including closures for extreme weather — at www.openspaceauthority.org, or by calling the Open Space Authority at (408) 224-7476.

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Fall fun with OSA!

Sierra VistaWhat will you do at the Open Space Authority today? As the weather changes from hot and dry to crisp and cool the Open Space Authority has a fantastic fall lineup of hikes, star-gazing and presentations in store for you. Whether your passion is to hike to breathtaking views, learn about specialized ecosystems, or seek out new trails and adventures with friends, we have special moments just waiting to happen. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to see the annual migration of tarantulas; sign-up now for the Sierra Vista Trail Opening Celebration, stargazing, and other special access activities. Keep an eye on our activities page under “Things to Do” or give us a call and we'll fill you in on all the fall fun.

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Andrea Mackenzie Appointed as General Manager

Andrea MackenzieThe Board of Directors is excited to announce the appointment of Andrea Mackenzie as the new General Manager at the Open Space Authority. The staff and Board are looking forward to Andrea formally joining the team on April 18. [see Press Release]

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One small step for hilltop access in Morgan Hill

Pea property photo

El Toro, the iconic peak on the western edge of Morgan Hill, has long been a tantalizing but forbidden treat for hikers because much of it is private property. The Morgan Hill Historical Society has hosted annual hikes on the peak, offering the only access.

Now some of the prominent hillside is in public hands following the Open Space Authority’s recent purchase of 33 acres. Though open public access is still a ways off, the acquisition puts the vision of an El Toro loop trail one step closer to reality. It also protects the property from development, which would be highly visible in the community.

The El Toro parcel was purchased for $500,000. It adjoins City of Morgan Hill lands to the north and includes coast live oak and California bay woodlands as well as annual grasslands.

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OSA is set to begin a strategic visioning process

At its September 23 meeting the OSA board of directors selected La Piana Consulting to guide the board through a strategy development process. Lester Olmstead-Rose, director of strategic practice for La Piana, will be the principal consultant. An experienced consultant and facilitator, he brings a background in business, government and nonprofit management to the task as well as fluency in Spanish.

The goal of the strategy process is to envision a collaborative future for OSA and build the will and intent to work cooperatively in achieving it. A series of open meetings will bring together the different segments of the open space community: the general public, environmentalists, land owners, health advocates, and trail users as well as OSA staff, board members, volunteers and Citizen’s Advisory Committee members.

Olmstead-Rose will focus on several key questions. First is the issue of developing an explicit framework to guide the board in making and communicating decisions. A second goal is determining the unique strengths that allow the Authority to do something different and better than other agencies, what is known as a competitive advantage.

By establishing who OSA is, where the agency is going, and what its major initiatives should be – chapter one in a longer story – the groundwork for clear, effective planning is set. And with planning in place, the work of building a future for the Open Space Authority that has the support of its many constituents can begin.