The vision of communities connected to the environment and to each other by greenbelts and open spaces is widely shared. Residents of Santa Clara County have worked with government agencies and private organizations for many years to make this vision real. The Open Space Authority collaborates wherever possible in purchasing land and easements and also in carrying out the many kinds of work that go into caring for open space lands.
The high cost of land in the county makes working with partners imperative. The Authority has contributed to the purchase of easements held by other agencies and has received funding from the Coastal Conservancy, Bay Area Ridge Trail, and state bond funds for some OSA lands. The Authority has also worked with these partners in preserving the county’s valuable open space:
• The Nature Conservancy
• Peninsula Open Space Trust
• Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District
• Santa Clara County Parks and Recreation
• City of San Jose
• California Department of Conservation
• National Resource Conservation Service
• Silicon Valley Land Conservancy
Many of the issues facing the caretakers of public lands easily cross borders and jurisdictions. Invasive weeds are one of those problems that require an organized, regional approach to be effective. The Open Space Authority has played an important role in developing a plan of attack for the Santa Clara County Weed Management Area.
Fire is another shared threat that encourages a collaborative response. Through its general manager the Authority has provided suppression training opportunities to area firefighters. Recruits from the Santa Clara County Joint Fire Academy had the chance to practice entering and ventilating buildings when the Authority needed to demolish a substandard structure on Rancho Cañada del Oro Open Space Preserve.
The problem of marijuana cultivation on public lands concerns land managers all over the state. The Open Space Authority has been fortunate in receiving help from California Fish & Game and Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office in removing debris from abandoned growing sites. Chain-link fence, irrigation pipe, camping equipment and trash have all been hauled away from remote portions of Authority lands.
The Open Space Authority partners with West Valley College in a Parks Management Intern Program that gives students hands-on experience in construction and maintenance projects. Interns helped build the Mayfair Ranch Trail and have worked on water system improvements, open space preserve signage and interpretive materials.
Graduate students also find the Authority’s lands and preserves to be a valuable resource in setting up research projects. Rare serpentine grasslands, riparian habitats, and a variety of rare, threatened and endangered species provide a rich environment for study.