Into the Great Wide OpenTuesday, January 15, 2013, 12:30 p.m.
New approaches to protect healthy natural areas, farmland and habitat are emerging in the South Bay under several ambitious planning efforts: Conserving and Sustaining Agriculture in the Coyote Valley, Santa Clara Valley Habitat Plan , and A Conservation Vision: Water, Wildlife and Working Lands. These efforts are engaging communities, landowners and conservation groups to protect and enhance lands that are vital to the region’s health and quality of life. Join us for a discussion about the findings of these initiatives and challenges for implementing them with Sibella Kraus, president of Sustainable Agriculture Education, Ken Schreiber, program manager of the Santa Clara Valley Habitat Plan and Andrea Mackenzie, general manager of the Santa Clara County Open Space Authority.
100 W. San Fernando St.
3rd Floor, Room 330
San Jose, CA 95113
Key Land Purchase Expands Open Space Authority Preserve in Southern Santa Clara County
On October 11th, the Santa Clara County 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.
Recent Acquisition Protects Llagas Creek WatershedPhoto: Detail of Llagas Creek on Hifai property
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.
"A Little Piece of Heaven"Photo: OSA General Manager 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.”
New Assistant General Manager, Matt Freeman
We 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.
Message from Andrea Mackenzie, General Manager
As 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.
Sierra Vista: Feel Like You’re on Top of the World!
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
Nestled 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.
Fall fun with OSA!
What 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.
Andrea Mackenzie Appointed as General Manager
The 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]
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.
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.